Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne believes the awards night for The Frownlow Medal must be held at Hillsong Church in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Hayne is a member of the hugely popular Evangelical megachurch and is a favourite to win The Frownlow Medal in 2019 after being charged with sexual assault.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015 and code-swapper Karmichael Hunt was the most recent recipient.
The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame honours former players and players who received media attention in previous seasons, for similarly scandalous behaviour, and its inductees include Ben Cousins and Julian O’Neill.
Hayne believes Hillsong Church is a superior venue to The Star, Sydney, which is the traditional home of the award’s night for the most prestigious award in Australian sport.
“Sure, lots of guys have been nominated for stuff that happened at The Star,” Hayne conceded.
“Even Corey (Norman, 2016 Frownlow Medallist) got busted with pills there, but Hillsong is better – it rocks. It’s a huge venue, they have wicked concerts and stage shows and the atmosphere is massive,” he argued.
The former NRL player, who has not been found guilty of sexual assault, also believes it could attract distinguished guests to the ceremony.
“We could get ScoMo to go. He loves new age Pentecostal churches and he’s a huge footy fan. He could hand out the awards. I reckon if we told him he could wear a baseball cap and sink some schooners, he’d do it for sure.”
Holding the ceremony at Hillsong may also appease two other leading candidates, Israel Folau and Manase Fainu, who have an affinity with churches in the western suburbs of Sydney. Folau lost his multi-million dollar Rugby Union contract for expressing views he cultivated at a church in western Sydney, while Fainu will soon face court after being accused of stabbing someone during a brawl outside a church in western Sydney.
Hillsong faces strong competition for hosting rights. The Star is a very popular haunt with Frownlow nominees, while La Favela nightclub in Bali is where recent nominees Nelson Asofa-Solomona and David Fifita attracted the attention of Frownlow judges.
Wherever the event is held, all in attendance are sure to be filled with some sort of spirit.