Penrith Panthers help Jamal Idris fight demons

Getting the help he needs: Jamal Idris.
Getting the help he needs: Jamal Idris.

Jamal Idris is in a good place - not mentally just yet, but he is getting treatment for his alcohol issues. They are significant and long-term issues, and the help he is getting is in line with his issues. He is getting the right treatment away from the public eye and the Penrith club deserves enormous credit for that. ''I'm not going into details,'' his agent Sam Ayoub said.

''But what I will say is that the help that Penrith are giving to Jamal is beyond comprehensive and I'm happy to thank them publicly on his behalf and on behalf of his family. No one can start to understand how good the Panthers and Phil Gould have been to him, and he is grateful for the way they are looking after his welfare.'' This columnist has seen Jamal out on the drink - and his behaviour could not be faulted.

But there have been plenty of times when it could be. His problem is that when he drinks, which is too often, he can become aggressive.

He knows it and that's why he knows he needs to stop drinking. Idris was involved in an incident when he was at the Gold Coast - he was involved in a confrontation with Luke Bailey, one of the most respected Titans players. Bailey didn't like the way Idris was carrying on and made it clear him.

As a result of the incident, Idris was on the outer with senior players. He has been involved in an alcohol-related fight with teammate James Roberts in a taxi.

The result of that was Roberts left the club. Idris had a hard upbringing and knows that he needs to address his issues. Away from the drink it's clear that Idris is a highly-intelligent young man - but his good heart and kind manner go missing when he is drinking.

On his latest bender, it's been rumoured that he had a stink with members of the public - that is incorrect from what I've been told. He only harmed his reputation by drinking solidly for days and failing to front at training. A fit and well Idris is a player who can shift the Panthers from being contenders to grand finalists or better.

Sharks switch?

There have been rumblings out of Shark land that the players want a new coach for the rest of the year - not because they don't like Peter Sharp, instead because by his own admission he is best suited as an assistant coach. Tim Sheens has got a mention as has Brad Fittler. Shane Flanagan is due back on September 17 and the Sharks are already paying him - it would be a big ask to pay three coaches.

Farah has right to be angry, but Stuart's the biggest loser 

Robbie Farah's anger at Wests Tigers management for their handling of the James Tedesco contract was well placed. That he expressed it so publicly is credit to the skipper. Farah was kept up to date with the situation from the start as he has the same manager as Tedesco, Sam Ayoub.

Farah knew long before the other players that things were going south — literally. He was aware Tedesco was willing to stay for less, but not $800,000. I saw him in Origin camp soon after Tedesco agreed to go to Canberra. I'm not sure he was joking when he said: ''Yeah, I'm not talking to Sammy.'' Farah and Ayoub are very tight — and they are speaking.

But now it's Ayoub who would have some right to be miffed. Tedesco's decision has cost him plenty, and it was Farah who helped keep him at the club. The most telling reason for the backflip? Tedesco decided to go to Canberra when he wasn't playing and was in the rehab group, when he was not as heavily involved  with his teammates.  Recently he has been  back playing and training with the whole squad.

A far bigger loser out of it all is Ricky Stuart, who  has not taken the decision well.

Tough crowd

Ben Te'o went public with his reasons for leaving Souths - they were largely related to copping a hard time since he was accused but cleared of assaulting Katie Lewis. He told reporters - not this one: ''That is what I have got to live with, about you bashed [a woman]. I cop it on social media. People yell it at games. If people only knew the facts.'' All of that is understandable - and it's not fair that Te'o is copping abuse from fans. He was cleared of any wrongdoing - and for that reason he doesn't deserve the heat.

What is hard to understand though, if Te'o is so hurt by the abuse he is copping, why did his agent shop him with a big price tag ($600,000 a season) to rival clubs. And, when we say rivals, we include the Roosters. Yes, the team that Souths can't cop. The Roosters didn't want a bar of Te'o - not because of Lewis. Perhaps they didn't like the stories they had heard from the way he left the Tigers - their players are not huge supporters of Te'o. If you missed it, Te'o gave me a nice blast at Souths training during the week. He refused to answer my questions at a media conference, which is fair enough if he does not like me. He then sprayed me in front of his teammates and other media calling me a grub among other things. He told me I was not welcome at Souths ''because nobody likes you''.

That was hardly a news flash. I've copped the cold shoulder from Souths players since I first reported the claims. I once had a good relationship with most of the players - that's gone. Souths have banned me from talking to their players in one-on-one interviews. None of that bothers me. Nor did the Te'o spray that was captured on camera. Souths reported that to the NRL, but it was not because I complained about it. As a journo you cop that. The cameras didn't capture Te'o eyeballing me and calling me a ''f---wit''.

Beau the Brave

Beau Ryan is a funny bugger, but he is a lot braver than he will be given credit for. At the Sharks' season launch this year, he was telling me how much trouble his neck was causing him and that he was having serious thoughts about calling it quits. He was getting a lot of referred pain. The fact he got back on the field says so much about the person he is. I remember Ryan long before he became the star he is today and I remember him and Robbie Farah telling me that he wanted to do TV one day. His auditions? 2am phone calls to my mobile pretending to be a range of characters, who would always be offering me a scoop. He deserves every bit of success he's had and deserves more in the future.

Super freak

Jarryd Hayne's remarkable Origin game has had experts scratching their heads about how good he is. A person well placed to comment is the man who manages him. ''I said when he first burst on to the scene that he's the best kid since Brad Fittler,'' his agent Wayne Beavis said. ''And I think he is on his way to moving into his league. Don't forget he is only 26.''

Going for gold

There are few things better than a Muhammad Ali documentary - and now an Australian team headed up by Phillip Boatswain is hoping to produce one about Ali's 1960 Olympic gold medal. I received an email from Boatswain saying: ''I am currently running a crowd-funding campaign for a documentary I want to make about Muhammad Ali's 1960 Olympic gold medal.

I assume you know the story, but I have been fascinated by the controversy and debate about whether Ali is telling the truth when he says he threw his medal into the Ohio River after being denied service in a Louisville cafe. So with my doco I am trying to settle the debate once and for all. My team intends to conduct a number of interviews with Ali associates and boxing experts before concluding with a thorough search of the Ohio River for Ali's lost medal. I have secured the partnership of a team of underwater exploration expert Mark Ryan from Melbourne and he is certain that if the medal is in the Ohio River they can find it with their technology.

We've also had some positive feedback from two-time world champion George Foreman. In terms of Ali himself, we have made contact with his foundation and have also attempted to contact his wife, Lonnie Ali, whom we intend to interview for the film. I will have to go to the US before we film to lock down a few of these interview subjects but am confident we can secure them. We have confirmed Ali's brother - Rahman Ali, NBC producer Brian Brown and Bob Costas.'' For the record, this is Boatswain's view: ''I believe Ali threw it in. After all these years, what possible reason would he have to lie.''

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Danny Weidler is a Channel Nine reporter

This story Penrith Panthers help Jamal Idris fight demons first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.