The Australian Rugby League Commission boss has today confirmed the controlling body has contracted former NSW Blues star Timana Tahu in a pathways mentorship role from July 1.
Chairman of the ARLC, Peter Beattie, today told NITV News the governing body has not closed its doors on the former NRL player and has engaged Tahu as a Transition Officer in the National Rugby League's School to Work program.
This week, the former state and international representative player became the focus of controversy surrounding the surprise axing of Indigenous players Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell from the NSW Blues State of Origin team for the second game of the series in Perth.
In an exclusive column for NITV News on Tuesday, Tahu suggested that refusing to sing the Australian National Anthem in preliminary ceremonies to the series opener in Brisbane may have contributed to Walker and Mitchell being cut from the NSW representative team.
In the build up to the game, NSW Blue's Cody Walker, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr were joined by Queensland’s Will Chambers in going public about their refusal to sing the anthem, while on-field footage on the night showed up to 11 players of 34 declined to sing.
In his column, Tahu also revealed he felt like he was "black-listed” after walking out on NSW's State of Origin side in 2010.
Those opinions immediately drew the ire of NSWRL chief executive David Trodden, who described Tahu's comments as "appalling", "seriously misguided" and claimed the former state representative star would "never work with the organisation again".
“If he seriously thinks that an honourable person like Freddy [coach Brad Fittler] or anybody else in the NSW Rugby League would have paid any attention to the anthem issue in selecting the team, then he should be seriously embarrassed that he thinks that way,” Trodden told The Australian.
News publications including the Daily Telegraph and The Australian subsequently reported the 38-year-old would be sacked from a mentorship role with the NSWRL, a job that was later revealed to have been an unpaid and un-contracted position.
The controversy has generated interest on social media, with many NRL fans and social commentators going online to provide their own comments and opinions.
The scathing response from NSWRL has been described as a "classic overreaction" from one public relations consultant, when asked by NITV News if the situation could have been handled better.
Sydney-based issues management consultant Todd Hayward also described the reaction of the NSWRL as "oversensitive".
"From a PR and reputation management perspective, the response from the NSWRL to Timana Tahu’s opinion piece smacks of defensiveness and oversensitivity and is a classic overreaction," Mr Hayward said in a written statement.
"It appears from Dave Trodden’s comments that apart from not speaking first to Timana about his views, he publicly responded before even reading his column.
"Rather than calmly say, 'Timana is entitled to his opinion but it’s not one that we share or one that is in line with our values', the NSWRL has managed to make its actions in reportedly ‘sacking’ Tahu from an honorary post, the main story," said Mr Hayward.
NITV News has contacted NSWRL for comment regarding its position on Timana Tahu in light of today's ARLC announcement.