Rugby league cleanskin Cooper Cronk says the NRL is past the point of tolerating the loose actions of players like South Sydney star Cody Walker.
Walker is being investigated by NSW Police after a video emerged online showing the 2019 NSW State of Origin five-eighth kicking a man in the chest in an altercation in Casino last December.
The third man in, Walker apologised and claimed he was emotional and grieving the suicide of his cousin when he was caught on film karate-style kicking the man.
“It was not a true reflection of my character and who I am as a person,” Walker said.
Cronk accepts that may be the case but feels enough is enough at a delicate time when the NRL is trying to prove it’s worthy of a chance to relaunch the season during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s not a major indiscretion. It’s just not a good look,” the four-time premiership winner told Fox League Live.
“Just from our selfish point of view in terms of rugby league, it’s just not a good look.
“I just don’t think you can have one of your star players who is an inspiration to a large portion of this country and who a lot of junior rugby league players aspire to be like, you just can’t have that look coming through on social media or the news outlets or what-not.”
Detectives have opened an investigation into the brawl and claims footage from the incident has been used in a blackmail attempt against Walker for $20,000, after the original incident was not reported to police.
“So where this lands in terms of the NRL, look, the integrity unit will look at it,” Cronk said.
“Is it at the serious end? I’d say no. Is it at the bottom end? No.
“But it’s just a couple of levels up that’s going to have to be dealt with.
“He’s very lucky that – we don’t know what happened – but he didn’t cause any damage.
“If that had have caused severe damage to the person he kicked or someone else around, then this is a completely different story.
“So the blackmail is not for us to discuss.”
With Souths in eighth spot after a one-from-two start and without retired leaders Sam Burgess and Greg Inglis, Cronk believes new captain Adam Reynolds is under huge pressure entering next week’s competition restart.
The Rabbitohs resume against the defending champion Sydney Roosters, then face Melbourne and Cronk believes Wayne Bennett’s men will struggle to make this year’s top eight.