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The Roar


Media misfires on NRL crisis

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Roar Rookie
17th February, 2019
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Having a glance through some Saturday papers it was no surprise to see the current NRL dramas with a spate of allegations against players dominating the pages.

It’s a difficult issue and plenty of different views are being voiced.

One area I’m finding hard to agree with is the notion that players who are charged but not yet found guilty need to be suspended until the trial is over, because they have bought the game into disrepute.

I could understand if a system is bought in which suspends the players because it’s not practical to have them playing for a whole host of reasons, but this notion of bringing the game into disrepute as a blanket reason for suspending them is not going to work.

Here is a portion of Peter Fitzsimons column from the SMH from 16th Feb 2019.

“If you have behaved in a manner whereby the police have charged you, and you have generated shocking headlines from one end of the country to the other, I would maintain that both the club and the NRL are themselves putting the game into disrepute by playing you. Friends, this is a no-brainer and I am quietly told the NRL now gets it too.”

The big problem here is that based on many recent cases we don’t know if it’s the player or the alleged victim who has acted in the manner which has led to the charges.

If the alleged victim has made up stories or blown things out of proportion, then the charges are entirely their doing – but if it’s the player who has assaulted them then it’s them to blame entirely for the charges and the headlines.


Police charges are zero proof that you have behaved in any manner at all. Several players like Shaun Kenny-Dowell, Semi Radradra, Hazem El Masri and Brett Stewart were accused but were later exonerated.

If the NRL know who is generating all these countrywide headlines at the moment – then no worries, suspend them – but forget about thinking that police charges will give you an answer.

A final point which has been bugging me but I haven’t pieced together is this notion that players who put themselves in a certain position are taking the risk of getting into trouble. Then if they are charged falsely or correctly should be punished anyway for this mythical position they entered.

It is pure nonsense.

Calls for players to be suspended because they were allegedly drunk, out at 2:30, or acting unfaithful to their partners are missing the point. A player could be anywhere at anytime and run into trouble.

There is a need to punish the conduct we all find reprehensible, but to remember that this conduct is the target.