Des still an­gry about Ste­wart

Sea Ea­gles slam NRL over in­con­sis­tency

Townsville Bulletin - - NRL 2011 -

A BIT­TER war of words be­tween Manly and the NRL erupted yes­ter­day as the Sea Ea­gles’ sim­meri n g r e s e n t m e n t o v e r B r e t t Ste­wart’s four-game ban back in 2009 boiled over.

The NRL in­censed the Sea Ea­gles on Mon­day by an­nounc­ing they would await the out­come of Benji Mar­shall’s court case be­fore con­sid­er­ing any sanc­tion af­ter he was charged with as­sault fol­low­ing a week­end in­ci­dent.

The Sea Ea­gles launched a scathing at­tack on the NRL at a press con­fer­ence fronted by coach Des Hasler, chief ex­ec­u­tive Graham Lowe and chair­man Scott Penn at the club’s train­ing ground.

The club claims Ste­wart’s treat­ment in 2009 was ‘‘ grossly un­fair’’ when he was sus­pended for four matches a nd t he c l ub f i ned $ 100,000 fol­low­ing their boozy sea­son launch in 2009.

The 26-year-old was cleared in court last year of a sex­ual as­sault charge stem­ming from the hours af­ter that launch.

Manly be­lieve the NRL acted too quickly in pun­ish­ing Ste­wart, claim­ing there was no ev­i­dence the rep­re­sen­ta­tive full­back was heav­ily in­tox­i­cated at the time the NRL said he breached their code of con­duct.

How­ever, the NRL hit back, claim­ing Manly’s own re­port on the in­ci­dent in­di­cated Ste­wart was asked to leave the li­censed premises where the Sea Ea­gles held their launch due to in­tox­i­ca­tion.

It was also noted the Sea Ea­gles had ad­mit­ted at the time their al­co­hol man­age­ment pro­ce­dures were in­ad­e­quate.

Hasler, how­ever, ac­cused NRL chief ex­ec­u­tive David Gal­lop of be­ing in­con­sis­tent in not of­fer­ing Ste­wart the same sup­port as Mar­shall.

‘‘ We all know now Brett was cleared of all al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault,’’ Hasler said.

‘‘ There were some sec­tions of the me­dia that re­ported Brett as be­ing ‘ blind drunk’ and couldn’t re­mem­ber any­thing and be­ing highly in­tox­i­cated.

‘‘ That was not the case. Brett did not ex­hibit any be­hav­iour that of­fended our code or the code of the NRL. He was not heav­ily in­tox­i­cated.

‘‘ He did not ex­hibit any be­hav­iour that would have brought the game into dis­re­pute and that is the in­con­sis­tency.’’

Lowe said the club was an­gry Ste­wart’s name con­tin­ued to be dragged up ev­ery time a player mis­be­haves and called on Gal­lop to ad­mit he made a mis­take.

‘‘ We won’t get the four weeks back, but we’ve got to stop im­me­di­ately bring­ing up Brett Ste­wart and leav­ing a scent that he may have done some­thing wrong,’’ Lowe said.

‘‘ We be­lieve com­mu­ni­ca­tion and fair­ness is the key and it is not a sign of weak­ness by the NRL to ad­mit t hey might have been wrong.’’

Lowe said the Sea Ea­gles were happy with how the NRL had

AN­GRY: coach Des Hasler at Manly train­ing yes­ter­day han­dled the Mar­shall sit­u­a­tion, with the Tigers star vow­ing to de­fend him­self against a charge of as­sault oc­ca­sion­ing ac­tual bod­ily harm in Down­ing Cen­tre lo­cal court on April 20.

‘‘ In hind­sight, in light of the NRL’s most re­cent de­ci­sions in sim­i­lar mat­ters, the fact that Brett was sus­pended for four weeks and the club fined $ 100,000 would ap­pear to be grossly un­fair,’’ Lowe said.

‘‘ The club doesn’t take any is­sue with the re­cent de­ci­sion of the NRL in the case of Benji Mar­shall. Al­low­ing the legal process to take its course, with­out in­ter­ven­tion, is the cor­rect de­ci­sion to take.’’

Gal­lop hit back, claim­ing com­ments he had made in re­cent days about Ste­wart were in re­ac­tion to ‘ ‘ emo­tional ac­cu­sa­tions’’ from Hasler.

TAR­GET: Brett Ste­wart

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