IN LATE SEPTEMBER 2015, Malcolm Turnbull made his first sporting appearance as Prime Minister at the Dally M Awards, the black-tie night for the working-class game. It should have been home turf. Turnbull is a long-time supporter of the Sydney Roosters – the closest to a silvertail club in the code, but really just the local rugby league team in the Eastern Suburbs where he grew up. But something went wrong for the Prime Minister; and News Ltd, Fairfax and SBS all settled on the word ‘awkward’ to describe his performance at the event.
There was modest but perhaps surprised applause as host Tony Squires called Turnbull to the stage. Squires thanked the Prime Minister for coming, and Turnbull – with seemingly genuine bonhomie – responded ‘that it is great to be here’. There was silence, so Squires asked a chatty question about the Roosters. Fatally, the Prime Minister turned pundit. ‘The Roosters had very bad luck,’ he said of their defeat to the Brisbane Broncos in the first preliminary final. ‘I thought that was a very good pass, Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s pass, it just went to the wrong person. There’s a lot of luck in rugby league, and there’s a lot of luck in politics. Ah, I mean Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s long pass was intercepted by Darius Boyd, and then Ben Hunt did a similarly – well not quite so long a pass, more of a Harbour Bridge pass – and of course set up a try. So it’s the result that counts, Tony, that’s all that matters.’
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