It has all but been confirmed. Queensland Red and Wallaby inside back, Berrick Barnes will join the NSW Waratahs in2010.
Reports today are indicating that Barnes has informed the QRU of his decision and his formal signing with the NSWRU is imminent.
This is a dire day for Queensland Rugby. My feelings for them have already been captured in a previous posting, but this development can only hasten the demise of the Reds and/or the QRU.
How could he go? Is there a current Reds player (if we take the liberty to include Berrick for the sake of the argument) that is more Queensland than Berrick? Is there a current Reds player who has been more verbal in the need for change at Qld rugby? Is there a Red that put his body on the line more often for his team than Berrick? My answer is no.
But how could he not move? The QRU as an organisation have been in a spiral downwards since professionalism hit way back in 1995. The spiral seems now to be in free fall. The question is, and seems to be asked every year, when exactly is rock bottom? Surely we are close? Or will it be when Digby announces his departure? Or when Sean Hardman opts against running around again?
I would have thought today’s developments would only increase the chance of those things happening.
The irony for the Reds is that there have been a lot of player movement with ‘Queensland’ players this year. Not much has been our way. Drew Mitchell is off to the Tahs too. Rocky Elsom seemingly ran screaming from the QRU into the waiting arms of the Brumbies. Richard Brown and, apparently, James O’Connor have opted to stay in the west. I thought things were changing? How can we not even keep the most Queensland of Queensland players?
When will people continue to just put up with this from the QRU? Watch Ben Whitaker (no longer there) cop the blame for this. How convenient. Changes are needed at the top of the QRU, and they needed to happen pretty damn quick.
Is it possible that 2010 could be an even worse year for Queensland Rugby, and the Reds, than the shambles that we have put up with in the past?