Posted: 6/14/2012 9:58:15 PM
Remember this? Apparently this is legit as well....
A MYSTERY punter landed a huge betting plunge last weekend when a Channel Nine television producer was left to pick the man of the match in the Wests Tigers-Newcastle game.
We can today reveal a punter walked into a Randwick TAB shortly before the game last Sunday and backed Tigers forward Chris Heighington from $34 to $9 to win the man of the match.
Heighington kept firming from $34 to $21 to $13 to $11 to $9 as the punter outlaid a series of bets of up to $500. He collected around $30,000, but would have won more had the TAB not restricted his bets. He originally tried to put $2000 on at $34.
The punter won after Channel Nine named Heighington man of the match ahead of hooker Robbie Farah, who most believed was clearly the best player.
Sportsbet boss Craig Nugent confirmed the TAB has conducted an investigation into the plunge and has spoken to senior officials at the NRL. They found nothing untoward had occurred.
"We always check the markets when there has been a big price movement,'' said Nugent. "There has been a successful result for some punters, who were betting in 100s and not thousands.
"Sometimes there's conjecture, sometimes there isn't. Channel Nine determines the result. Sometimes it's clearcut, sometimes it isn't.''
The TAB confirmed it was the biggest plungeon man of the match in a club game for years. An investigation has revealed Channel Nine's commentators Peter Sterling and Ben Ikin could not split the two Tigers.
So producer Brad McNamara made the decision to give Heighington the award. Brad McNamara is a former NSW Shield cricketer but has no real background in rugby league.
His lack of league credentials begs the question as to why he was left with the casting vote on the award given the investment from punters.
Most punters are under the impression their money will be riding on the opinion of a more qualified judge.
The decision to overlook Farah, one of the form players in the competition, cost punters dearly as he was one of the favourites.
Tigers coach Tim Sheens told us that Farah was clearly his team's best player. So too did Test selector Bob Fulton, who covered the game for 2GB. Our colleague Steve Mascord gave Farah the three points in the Dally M Medal award.
But Channel Nine sports boss Steve Crawley defended his commentary team when we spoke to him about the decision to overlook Farah.
"I'm 100 per cent behind the integrity of our judges and 100 per cent behind the decision to give the award to Chris Heighington,'' Crawley said. "Peter Sterling voted for Robbie Farah, and Ben Ikin went for Heighington.
"Phil Gould didn't vote because he left right onfull time to write his newspaper column. It was 1-all and Brad McNamara, our producer, had a vote and went for Heighington. I'm comfortable with (it).''
However, Crawley admits Channel Nine could do without the pressure of punters betting on man-of-the-match selections.
"We do three matches a weekend and it always comes down to opinion, '' he said. "I personally wish the TAB didn't bet on it because it's always a matter of conjecture.
"The same thing happened in Origin I and it didn't involve our commentators. Most people thought Steve Price was a standout man of the match. But it went to Jonathan Thurston. And that was the choice of the selectors.
"It's something that's always going to happen... because it's a matter of opinion.