Simon, Markham back Tahu’s decision to walk

John SimonFormer NSW and Steelers representative John Simon has thrown his support behind Timana Tahu’s decision to walk out on tonight’s Origin game, following racist comments from NSW assistant coach Andrew Johns.Simon – who played alongside Johns in the 1997 series – said that, while he admired Tahu’s decision, he believes it could end up leaving a sour taste in the mouths of NSW selectors.”I certainly support what he has done, there was no need for those comments aimed at Inglis or whoever else. It’s just unnecessary,” he said.”Personally, during the earlier stages of my career I wouldn’t have reacted that way but as you get older you need to set an example for your own kids and all other kids as well.”Making his Origin debut at only 19, Simon had to wait another five years before he was selected again.He believes the major reason other players haven’t spoken out is because they fear it may jeopardise their future selection hopes.”It’s something that in the early part of your career you would probably tolerate because you’re young, you want to play Origin and you don’t want to rock the boat,” he said.”Don’t get me wrong, you would still have a reaction to it, but maybe not as big as Tahu’s decision.””I think it comes down to the individual, really. Whoever makes these kind of comments are the ones tarnishing our game.”Simon’s sentiments have been echoed by the former parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal affairs Colin Markham.”This incident says to me that racism is still alive and evil within our society, not just in rugby league and not just in sport,” he said.”What Johns said was totally unacceptable but I’ve got no doubt he’s not the only person in that level of rugby league saying similar sorts of things.”Mr Markham believes league’s reputation has taken a backward step.”I thought the league had made a real step in the right direction with the Indigenous All Stars match . This has undone much of that,” he said.
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