OF all the press boxes at the various stadiums in which NRL games are played, the one at Melbourne's AAMI Park rates among my favourites.
The visiting-team coaching staff and print media share adjoining rooms on the western side of the field, separated only by a glass window. Sit next to that window, and you can hear pretty much everything going on next door.
I've done it on several occasions, but in particular I'll never forget a game the Newcastle Knights played against Melbourne Storm in 2011.
Late in the first half, Knights captain Kurt Gidley dislocated his left shoulder after landing heavily in a tackle.
Bravely, he attempted to play on, but he was clearly a passenger, and Melbourne wasted no time in directing their big forwards to run at the wounded five-eighth.
Knights coach Rick Stone barked down the two-way radio, instructing trainer Graham Perkins to get Gidley off the field, for his own sake and the team's.
Gidley refused, and Perkins returned to the bench.
Then followed an outraged response from Stone that I remember, as clear as day: "Perko, get your f---ing arse back out on that f---ing field, and get him to come off."
On this occasion Gidley obeyed orders, and he spent the next month on the sidelines recovering from his injury.
The point I'm trying to illustrate is that David Klemmer's well-documented reluctance to leave the field during Sunday's 24-10 loss to Canterbury, and the words he reportedly exchanged with Knights high-performance manager Hayden Knowles, would normally be no big deal in rugby league.
Stone and Gidley had a great relationship, and I'd be surprised if either of them could remember the incident an hour after the game, let alone, as I can, 11 years down the track.
I'm sure there were no hard feelings, either way.
In the case of Klemmer, the decision to stand him down from Sunday's clash with Wests Tigers, ban him from training with his teammates and issue a show-cause notice before a disciplinary hearing is, to my knowledge, unprecedented.
As one former player told me earlier in the week: "You're out there in the heat of the battle, your heart rate is up around 180, and you're not thinking clearly."
Yet Knights management have apparently chosen this moment to draw a line in the sand. Follow orders, or else.
I'll be surprised if they sack Klemmer, despite speculation to the contrary.
I'd expect this is more of a warning shot, to one of the team's senior players, as well as his teammates.
My guess is he'll receive some undisclosed fine and be back in the team to play in Newcastle's following game, against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
If so, it seems a remarkably harsh way to give him a message that could easily have been delivered behind closed doors, without the accompanying media hysteria.
At the very least, it's a bold statement from the powers-that-be. Whether it pays dividends, only time will tell.
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