Ex-NRL star El Masri backs Tahu's stance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ex-NRL star El Masri backs Tahu's stance

By David Beniuk 23/06/2010 07:39:49 PM Comments (0)

Timana Tahu will meet the NRL's Indigenous Council with the blessing of one of the game's multicultural icons, Hazem El Masri.

Tahu will take the next step in his campaign to stamp out racism in rugby league with a meeting on Thursday with the Council chaired by William "Smiley" Johnstone.

El Masri, the Muslim who came from war-torn Lebanon as a child and went on to become the game's highest point-scorer, was reluctant to enter league's racism discussion on Wednesday, but did back Tahu's stance.

Asked if the game was moving forward despite Tahu's walkout from the NSW State of Origin camp over racist remarks from assistant coach Andrew Johns, El Masri replied: "We are. Sometimes you have to nominate the problem and just stamp it out.

"I guess sometimes it's good to do that and not beat around the bush so if there's a problem let's just point it out and sort it out and move on.

"As a human being we all make mistakes, it's good sometimes just to put your hand up.

"This is pretty much the Australian culture, that you make a mistake, put your hand up, recognise your mistake, apologise and just move on."

NRL chief executive David Gallop said he hoped Thursday's meeting would be a step towards Tahu and Johns reconciling in a mediation session, the date of which is still to be set, with Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner Mick Gooda.

On a day the Women in League group named Parramatta's Nathan Hindmarsh as their "favourite son", the focus remained more on race issues than the involvement of women in the game.

Dual international Wendell Sailor said he had come close to taking a similar stand to Tahu in both league and rugby union.

But he said the example of indigenous players like Steve Renouf and Ricky Walford had taught him to deal with it differently.

"You just thought 'toughen up and get on with it'," he said.

"If you've got this colour skin it's going to happen.

"I've got that personality where I can gloss over it and get on with life.

"Some people, it breaks you down and with 'T' (Tahu) it's obviously breaking him down a bit."

Former Cronulla and South Sydney fullback David Peachey said he hoped Tahu, who was rubbed out for four games after a fiery clash with Newcastle on Monday, could carry on the fight.

"I don't think he handled himself the best (on Monday night) but that's probably the raw emotion," Peachey said.

"He's taken a stance and he's got to be able to back that up.

"A lot of the indigenous communities are supporting him for what he's done."

Meanwhile, NSWRL chief executive Geoff Carr defended the handling of the Tahu walkout after initial reports of an injury and personal problems.

"There were some really unusual circumstances they were dealing with which perhaps delayed the announcement or Joey's (Johns') involvement but it was unchartered waters," Carr said.

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