Marshall escapes censure over biff
BENJI Marshall will face no punishment from his club the Wests Tigers or the NRL unless further evidence of bad behaviour emerges or he is found guilty of his assault charge.
Marshall, anointed the face of the league at last week’s season launch, escaped sanction yesterday with the NRL saying, apart from the disputed assault allegation, there was no other evidence of misconduct.
The league said it would not prejudge the assault allegation but reserved the right to punish Marshall if its investigations uncovered evidence he had misbehaved in the Sydney CBD in the early hours of Saturday morning.
‘‘ The only issue that would seem capable of attracting any penalty from the NRL in this matter is the one that will be determined in court,’’ NRL chief executive David Gallop said.
‘‘ It may well be that Benji can successfully defend the allegation and he is entitled to that opportunity.
‘‘ Both he and the Wests Tigers, though, need to be aware that the seriousness of this matter and the importance of the week will dictate the need for strong action if he is unsuccessful in defending the charge.’’
Marshall has been charged with one count of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
His manager, Martin Tauber, claims his client was racially abused several time before the alleged incident. The Tigers yesterday presented a report of the incident to the NRL and the club’s account has so far been accepted by the league.
‘‘ The report indicates that, after the player had conducted himself in an exemplary manner throughout the evening, there was an allegation of an assault,’’ an NRL statement said.
The league moved to head off criticism by citing similar action taken in the past against players Sandor Earl, Jake Friend and Anthony Laffranchi, all of whom faced charges but were subsequently found not guilty.
It said Manly’s Brett Stewart had been suspended in 2009 because of evidence of misconduct before an incident which resulted in a sexual assault charge. Stewart was also later cleared of that charge.
Marshall is free to play in Monday night’s round one clash against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.