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Greg Growden
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After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Ruck'n Maul
Digby Ioane himself put the target on his back
Greg Growden
April 25, 2013
Australia's Digby Ioane poses for a portrait session, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, September 18, 2012
Digby Ioane's behaviour has caused concern among Reds officials for quite a while © Getty Images
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The stand-off between Digby Ioane and Queensland Reds is no surprise, because franchise officials have been concerned for some time about the Wallabies winger's behaviour. The most recent Ioane incident occurred at a Brisbane hotel, but there were also serious concerns over his antics at a function held by a team-mate some weeks earlier. This follows him being stood down in March after an altercation at a Melbourne bar. That explains why the Reds weren't too impressed when Ioane began seeking additional payments. It also appears that Quade Cooper and Ioane had been strengthening their relationships with certain Brisbane Broncos officials and players. With suggestions of contract breaches, the Ioane-Queensland Reds brouhaha could end up in the courts.

Bulldogs schedule further Folau talks

Racist comments directed at New South Wales Waratahs winger Israel Folau at a Sydney club function continue to cause problems. We know that numerous Waratahs were angered by the comments made by a former high-ranking NSW official, and further meetings involving Folau's connections and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL club have been scheduled for the coming week. That's why you have been hearing league officials claiming publicly that Folau will soon be back in the NRL.

Everything old is new - again

Fascinating to see no new faces on the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) board after the annual general meeting this week, despite the hullabaloo a few months ago about governance reform at the union and how it was crucial to have independent non-aligned directors. And Sydney University officials are getting sick and tired of being labelled the heart and soul of Australian rugby - with many former players or students landing important ad ministerial jobs in the game. As one exasperated Uni follower said this week: "What are they talking about? A sign should instead be erected over the entrance of Shore School in North Sydney saying: 'Welcome to Shore- the ARU Executive Academy.'" Was he referring to numerous former Shore students - including ARU chief executive Bill Pullover and chairman Michael Hawker plus interim Rebels chief executive Rob Clarke- invading the higher ranks of the game? Meanwhile, not everyone in Melbourne is ecstatic that Clarke is about to join the Rebels. We've been told that an infuriated Rebels official telephoned an ARU heavyweight "blasting" the organisation for appointing Clarke.

Nerves at the top

A group of "advisers" were agog when one of the local game's leading powerbrokers told them recently how he was offered his lucrative job when he was about to tee off for a game of golf, agreed to the position, but was uncertain by the end of the round whether he had made the right decision. Those nervous doubts apparently still linger.

Guessing games

Name the rugby heavyweight who opted against going to the New South Wales Waratahs - Chiefs Super Rugby match so he could attend the Sydney Swans-Geelong AFL match at the Sydney Cricket Ground next door? When cornered, he uttered: "I'd rather watch the real Cats than some pussycats."

Who is the former Waratahs winger who won his first mixed martial arts bout last weekend, when he knocked out his opponent in the first round? As a result, the former speedster has earned a three-fight professional contract.

Which Australian provincial coach, apart from losing confidence in his chief executive, wants the team's media manager sacked because of endless blunders? Let's just say members of the media would not shed any tears if it happened.

And who are the two Australian provincial coaches who have each sent their CV to European clubs? The names will surprise, one of whom is suddenly looking overseas following a clash with his provincial administrators last week.

Russell Barwick and Greg Growden discuss the big issues in Australian rugby

Cheika bouncing?

We hear European powerhouses Leinster and Leicester Tigers are showing interest in Waratahs coach Michael Cheika . It is no secret that Cheika is having problems with some at Waratahs HQ.

Naming Australia's Invincibles

It could be a feisty affair when a group of judges assemble in Sydney on Tuesday to pick Inside Rugby magazine's "Australian Invincibles" players. The Invincibles will highlight Australia's greatest rugby players. The judges include former Wallabies coaches Alan Jones, Bob Dwyer and Rod Macqueen, past Test players and several rugby writers, so there will be in the room several folk who haven't exactly seen eye to eye on numerous issues. Bread rolls at 10 paces, maybe. The first four Invincibles will be announced at a gala dinner on June 12.

Just for laughs

Rugby is too often a serious matter. At least it's pleasing to hear that "A night of Rugby Comedy" will be held at the City Recital Hall in Sydney on July 5. The rugby gagsters will include Gareth Chilcott, Scott Quinnell and Ian Robertson. No, the Rebels won't be making an on-stage appearance.

Homeless ...

What's this about a troubled Sydney premiership club given notice to vacate their home ground? Then again, funny things have been going on at that club for some time - including claims of missing player payments and dubious invoices, while the nefarious behaviour of a former first-grader has even attracted the attention of the local constabulary.

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