Tim Simona has all but been banned for life after the NRL deregistered the Wests Tigers centre for placing bets on NRL matches, including against his team winning.
Almost a month after standing him down from club-related activities, the governing body confirmed Simona had also sold jerseys through online auctions and kept the proceeds.
The 26-year-old was also accused of lying to the NRL integrity unit over two interviews at league central, leaving his NRL career in tatters.
“This is an extremely sad situation. Tim Simona has a serious personal problem and he has expressed some remorse,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said on Friday.
“He’s worked very hard to become an elite athlete and an elite rugby league player. He has now thrown that away.
“The game will continue to care for him. He will be provided with the welfare and assistance that he needs in this very difficult time.
“But based on the evidence we’ve identified, it is very hard to imagine that Tim Simona will be registered with the NRL at any time in the future.”
Greenberg refused to divulge specific details on the amount of bets Simona had made, except to say they were only modest wagers over a period of two years.
He also insisted that none of the bets came off.
“We don’t have evidence that he changed his performance to try and win those bets. That’s certainly something the player denies, but the fact is the bets were placed,” Greenberg said.
“Our integrity unit done a very thorough look at footage as well, aligned to what the betting history has been, and clearly spoken to him as well.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics, but there are multiple bets on multiple teams and players. The bets aren’t significant by any stretch, they’re modest bets.
“But to be fair, that’s irrelevant.”
The head of the NRL’s integrity unit, Nick Weeks, said Simona gave no explanation for his actions but was well aware of the implications of getting caught.
The NRL informed Simona of their decision on Friday morning.
“Tim’s reaction was as you’d expect it would be. He was devastated. I’m not sure what he was expecting,” Weeks said.
“But clearly the type of news we delivered to Tim today, for a young athlete who’s worked `his entire life to become a professional NRL player, the news is about as bad as it gets.”
Simona’s rugby league career is now in extreme doubt, with England’s Rugby Football League indicating the door could be closed on him playing in the Super League.
The Tigers released a statement later on Friday, standing by the NRL’s decision on their centre but confident the Simona saga isn’t a widespread issue.
“As a club we pride ourselves on our standards of behaviour and after discussions with the NRL I’m 100 per cent confident that this is isolated to Tim Simona,” Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said.
“At Wests Tigers we are very proud of our position in the community. We will not allow the actions of an individual player to jeopardise what this club stands for and represents.”
The NRL said today it has terminated the registration of Wests Tigers player Tim Simona.
CEO Todd Greenberg said an Integrity Unit investigation found that Simona had:
* Breached the NRL rules by betting on rugby league matches
* Bet on opposition players scoring – and against his team winning
* Sold rugby league jerseys through online auctions without passing on the full proceeds to the nominated charities
* Been untruthful in his interviews with the Integrity Unit
The Integrity Unit was also presented with other information, relating to his interaction with a third party, which has been considered.
Mr Greenberg said Simona clearly had serious personal issues, was remorseful and it was sad that an elite athlete had thrown away the opportunities presented to him.
He said the game would continue to offer him welfare services and monitor his wellbeing.
But Mr Greenberg said the breaches were at the high end of the integrity scale and the NRL had no alternative but to deregister him.
“There is nothing more important than the integrity of our game,” Greenberg said.
“Our fans have a right to expect that every player on every team is doing his best to win each game and we will be relentless in dealing with anyone who attempts to breach this trust.
Mr Greenberg said Simona made it clear in text messages that he not only knew he was breaking the rules in relation to betting on games – but he knew the consequences as well.
“At the end of the day he has deliberately flouted the laws of the game for his own gain and there is no place for him in the NRL.
“This is a warning to everyone in our game that if you try to meddle with the integrity of the game you will be caught and the consequences will be harsh.”