Nelson Asofa-Solomona has been suspended for three matches and handed a $15,000 suspended fine after he was caught on video in an alleged brawl in Bali.
The three-match ban will mean Solomona is unable to represent New Zealand in the Kiwis’ upcoming international Tests, but won’t prevent him from playing for the Melbourne Storm in 2020.
Asofa-Solomona’s behaviour was provoked by a coward punch on teammate Suliasi Vunivalu, and the NRL said they took this into account when making a decision.
“The sanctions take into account evidence which showed a degree of provocation contributed to the incident, Asofa-Solomona’s cooperation with the NRL investigation and the remorse he has shown,” said a statement by the NRL.
Vunivalu’s attacker was removed from the Bali venue, and Asofa-Solomona followed him outside, where the fight took place.
“I didn’t see it coming. I was lucky I didn’t fall and hit my head because people would have been visiting in a coma from my hospital bed,” said Vunivalu.
“The scariest bit was being punched and having no idea it happened. I would’ve defended myself and tried to dodge the punch but I didn’t have time. It was out of the blue that I got punched.”
The NRL statement stressed that players would continue to be held to a high standard of behaviour.
“All clubs were advised prior to the start of the off-season that serious penalties would be imposed for all off-field incidents.
“The NRL expects exemplary behaviour from all players and any player who falls short of that standard will be sanctioned.”