More than a week after footage emerged of Payne Haas and Albert Kelly getting involved in a fight, we are still waiting for the NRL’s Integrity Unit to announce the penalties they will face.
And they will – well, they should – face penalties.
Top football players brawling in a public place, in a nutshell, bring the game into disrepute. People who go after the person who filmed it as some kind of low life are far from the truth – this is not acceptable behavior on Kelly and Haas’ part, and what did they expect to happen in 2022?
You might not like it, but the bad behavior of famous people will probably get caught on camera.
That someone filmed an incident that was later investigated by the police – we’ll get to that later – is not the issue.
That said, if there had been two other footballers, they would probably have been fined each and we would all have moved on.
The question is how big it is due to the men involved and their history.
Albert Kelly is considered one of the NRL’s greatest ‘what if’ stories.
Basically, what if he wasn’t such a handicap for the piss.
An Australian schoolboy rep who moved to Parramatta, he made his first-year debut for Cronulla, who would have beaten the Storms, Wests Tigers, Bulldogs and Titans for his signing in 2010.
He managed 14 games in the Shire and was even named to an extended Origin team as a draft player in 2011, but was sacked in early 2012 for what Fox Sports reported as “nothing too serious but always a violation of training and fitness guidelines.” , in what was essentially the straw that broke the camel’s back after a series of arrests.
“When do you stop writing infringement notices?” then Sharks president Damian Irvine said Kelly was shown the door.
“It’s not just about firing the child. It has had countless reviews when you only need three.
“It’s very disappointing because Darren (Mooney) and Shane (Flanagan) have done so much work with the kid. They’ve put so much effort and time into him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out.”
Kelly got a reprieve later that year, signing a second-tier deal with the Knights, but that only lasted a few months, getting the boot after breaking a light – after taking his shirt off, which is a detail I found too good to pass up – at Newcastle nightclub Fanny’s (which, in a heartbreaking and disconcerting move, rebranded itself as Argyle House, meaning that when it was at the center of outbreak of COVID late last year, we were robbed of the opportunity for some really brilliant headlines).
“There’s no question that Albert is a talented young player who obviously had problems off the pitch while living in Sydney,” Knights CEO Matt Gidley said at the time.
“Unfortunately, for other disciplinary reasons, Albert has recently had his contract with the NSW Cup suspended and subsequently terminated.”
After two years with the Titans, Kelly moved to the UK, where in 2018 he again made headlines for his drunken antics, with the Yorkshire Post reporting that he was filmed “slurring drunken and rude insults at a McDonald’s employee”.
His club, Hull FC, said they had solved the problem “internally” and that was it. But then Albert Kelly was a big fish in the Super League at the time, having been shortlisted for the Man of Steel the previous year.
At Brisbane, he is a third-choice halfback – at best – with a contract that expires at the end of this year.
Now, you could say Kelly is the injured party in this incident. Apparently he played the part of the goose by deliberately stepping on Haas’ new shoes, but hitting someone in the head for scuffing your kicks is a massive overreaction.
Like, seriously, Payne, say out loud, “I hit Albert Kelly in the head because he stepped on my shoes.”
You understand how juvenile that is, don’t you?
The fact that Haas wasn’t drinking at the time shouldn’t be considered a mitigating factor — acting that way while sober is arguably more of a red flag.
But following the incident, the club were quick to cast Kelly as the man who was wrong, with Kevin Walters telling reporters he didn’t “think Payne had done anything too wrong, to be honest”.
He reiterated that view over the weekend as well, with the coach saying “Payne didn’t do much wrong in the video” and even going so far as to predict Haas would play the Panthers this Friday night, since he didn’t expect his star accessory to be banned.
Sorry to pour cold water on you, Kevvie, but you’re totally going to lose your prop for a while.
Because it’s not the first time he’s been in hot water either, having spent four weeks on the sidelines in 2019 for not cooperating with the integrity unit, as well as a suspension. three matches in 2021 for intimidating the police.
This latest incident saw him landed on a two-year good behavior bond and it turns out the police think punching someone in the head for stepping on your shoes isn’t particularly good behavior, which led them to open an investigation into the fight.
Now I don’t think this is an incident worthy of police time, but maybe they’re inclined to pay a little more attention to someone who just 12 months ago was yelled at the officers (among others) **k get out of here bro, get the f**k out of my face or i’ll take you all on me, you f**kwits.
And at the end of the day, that’s why we’re talking about this. If it had been, say, Adam Reynolds and Ryan James filmed in dust, it would already be yesterday’s news.
But it wasn’t those two, because they don’t do stuff like that. But Albert Kelly and Payne Haas? They both have serious form.
As far as suggestions, this points to a larger cultural issue with the Broncos, I would only say it’s an issue that Haas is going through another phase.
His apparent continued dissatisfaction with his contract status – which, as I said before, is actually a fair deal given that he signed it at a time when he was an injured teenager who had no not played a collective 40 minutes of football – suggests the suits at Red Hill give him more than a little extra wiggle room to keep him happy.
But it’s a cultural issue that I think is common to almost every club – I mean the Roosters were so keen to keep James Tedesco happy that they cleared him of any wrongdoing during the ‘squid gameincident without even talking to the girl he yelled at.
That’s why we have an independent body to oversee these kinds of things. Because the clubs cannot be counted on to ignore their own interests.
So what’s the result? Look, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Like I said, if it was most other players, we’re talking a slap on the wrist.
But because Payne Haas and Albert Kelly are serial offenders, it wasn’t a storm in a teacup that this came to light.
They deserve to spend time on the sidelines, if only for the accusation of repeated nonsense.