Sport Rugby League Matthew Elliott: In triumph Mark Coyne was humble, in disgrace contrite

Matthew Elliott: In triumph Mark Coyne was humble, in disgrace contrite

Mad moment: Mark Coyne has stood down. Photo: Getty
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Mark Coyne’s match-winning try for Queensland in the 1994 Origin Series has often been regarded as the greatest Origin try in history.

Coyne never let that moment define him. His humility remained. Whenever speaking about the “miracle try”, he always reflected on the extraordinary lead-up play rather than his finish.

An indicator of Coyne’s qualities was when the Dragons gave him a testimonial for his service to the club and he donated every cent to charity.

This service to the community has continued completely off the radar as he doesn’t want to attract attention to himself.

Equally, the recent headline-grabbing moment that involved abusive behaviour in Singapore won’t define him.

But just like that try, other commentators will attempt to draw the sensational aspects out of it.

Not for one second am I condoning what happened in Singapore. In fact, my assessment lines up entirely with Coyne’s of what came to pass.

It was embarrassing, lacked dignity and was completely out of character.

Equally, it should be noted no physical, mental or emotional harm occurred to anyone else during the incident.

Coyne pleaded guilty to the charge of abusing a police officer, was fined $4100 and has now stood down as an ARLC commissioner.

While I am not condoning it, I am not able to judge because I have done worse.

Actually, every person I know has lost their sh-t and behaved in a fashion they regret.

No doubt that might satisfy the stereotype of a rugby league person, but working in the corporate sector I have seen similar outbursts from managing directors, CEOs, school principals and general managers.

This does not make it right, but it is a reminder to us all that this type of behaviour – particularly when drinking – has consequences.

Mark Coyne has chosen a life of responsibility in the aftermath of his playing career. As a Commissioner of the NRL and a CEO of an insurance company.

This status is rightfully married to additional scrutiny and expectations which, in turn, elevates the consequences around personal behaviour,  both good and bad.

Coyne’s openness, honesty and willingness to expect consequences from his lapse also speaks to the person he is.

Let’s quickly look at what happened. He was at a venue with two mates and decided to leave early because he knew he had already drunk too much (this is something he is well known for).

In trying to get home he had a dispute with a cabbie who called the police. The dispute with the driver was resolved by the time the police arrived and ultimately was not a part of the charge.

The police asked for his passport, which was locked in his safe at the hotel and he was put in a van and detained as a possible illegal immigrant.

Intoxicated in the police van, he lost his temper and became verbally abusive. There is no excuse for this, particularly in a country with strict laws around public behaviour.

The questions around Coyne’s failure to self-report are valid, but besides having his passport confiscated for nearly six weeks Coyne did not really have anything to report as he was not charged until last Tuesday.

Coupled with the legal advice he received not to draw any attention to the case because it may elevate the judicial consequences, the move to not self-report is understandable.

This may sound like a friend of Mark’s trying to protect his credibility and I would have to openly plead guilty to that.

It is important to know this is an individual who has gone out of his way to help so many people in and out of the sport. I certainly fall into that list.

The attention and question marks that he is getting now would certainly be tough on him and his family. But be assured that he will be just as hard on himself.

In triumph a brilliant try did not define Mark Coyne, neither will a less-than-auspicious misstep in a foreign land.

Former St George player Matthew Elliott coached Canberra, Penrith and New Zealand Warriors in the NRL

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