In­con­sis­tent penal­ties among play­ers dam­age in­tegrity

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Sport -

THE shock­ing mis­be­haviour of play­ers and salary cap rort­ing are not the only is­sues of in­tegrity at the NRL.

Fans are equally as out­raged about the in­con­sis­tency of the penal­ties be­ing handed down.

Rugby league’s im­age has been trashed over the sum­mer months and Todd Green­berg has un­der­stand­ably vowed to get tougher.

This is fine be­cause the game needs stronger de­ter­rents for the one per cent of rat­bags who are ru­in­ing the rep­u­ta­tions of more than 500 re­ally de­cent NRL play­ers.

But we need con­sis­tency. We need to be fair on all clubs, all fans, all spon­sors and all play­ers.

You can’t let South Syd­ney Rab­bitohs su­per­star Sam Burgess off af­ter his lewd photo scan­dal but sus­pend Mitchell Pearce for eight weeks and fine him $125,000 for sim­i­lar of­fences.

And surely the NRL boss can’t write a court ref­er­ence for an­other Rab­bitohs su­per­star, Greg Inglis, when he could have killed some­one on our roads by driv­ing 20km over the speed limit with a blood al­co­hol read­ing of .085. It helped Inglis es­cape a con­vic­tion.

Two months later, we are deal­ing with the Dy­lan Napa “Big Papi’ leaked videos.

No ref­er­ence from Green­berg for Napa. No op­por­tu­nity to han­dle this one in house like the Rab­bitohs did with the Burgess in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

No free kick like the Bron­cos got with Matt Lodge last year for a drunken and vi­o­lent home in­va­sion.

Or Scott Bolton at the Cow­boys. He was found guilty of as­sault­ing a wo­man in Bondi. Zero ac­tion from the NRL. No fine. Noth­ing.

No, the NRL boss wants to make an ex­am­ple of Napa.

Kick him out of the first four to six rounds of the com­pe­ti­tion for some­thing that hap­pened six years ago at an­other club when he was a rookie. Hold the phone a sec. How is ban­ning Napa fair on the Can­ter­bury Bull­dogs? How can you back­date your anger to 2013?

How is this fair on their mem­bers, who have paid for their sea­son tick­ets in ad­vance but now face the prospect of los­ing their mar­quee sign­ing for some­thing their club had noth­ing to do with.

Why not fine the Roost­ers be­cause it hap­pened un­der their watch?

How is it fair on their spon­sors or Napa’s team­mates at Can­ter­bury?

By all means pun­ish Napa. Fine him $100,000 for stu­pid­ity and sus­pend $50,000 of it. But don’t pe­nalise Can­ter­bury fans.

If we’re turn­ing the clock back then Green­berg should be look­ing at him­self in his old role at the Bull­dogs when Ben Barba’s off-field is­sues were dealt with so poorly and in­ap­pro­pri­ately.

That Barba was al­lowed to play three weeks af­ter the al­leged as­sault of his part­ner, Ainslie Cur­rie.

That he didn’t com­plete his re­hab course at a north­ern beaches fa­cil­ity.

In­stead, he was rushed back be­cause the club put two com­pe­ti­tion points on week­ends ahead of his re­cov­ery.

That’s my opin­ion, any­way. He should not have played again that year.

All that aside, the best way to pun­ish play­ers is by in­tro­duc­ing heavy fines in­stead of sus­pen­sions.

Let’s give play­ers life for vi­o­lence against women. We all agree on that.

But the Napa, Pearce and even Jack Wighton case in Canberra last year should have been dealt with by hit­ting them where it hurts most.

Los­ing money is a big­ger is­sue for play­ers than miss­ing games.

Wighton was paid $250,000 while he was serv­ing a 10-week sus­pen­sion at the Raiders. He shouldn’t have re­ceived a cent.

Now ev­ery fan at ev­ery club awaits Green­berg’s next move.

Let’s hope he doesn’t over­re­act. No knee­jerk re­ac­tion. All we want is con­sis­tency. That’s what in­tegrity is all about.

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