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NRL comes down hard on off-field issues

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and the NRL have come down hard on a number of clubs and players after a string of off-field issues which have rocked the NRL this off-season.

It’s been a summer to forget for the game which yielded 17 incidents and Greenberg didn’t hold back in handing down several punishments on a number of matters.

In a landmark day for rugby league on Thursday, the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) met to form a historic “no fault” policy in a bid to “rebuild and protect the game”.

Greenberg also has discretion on matters which involve players charged with criminal offences that carry a maximum sentence of 11 years imprisonment – particularly when they involve violence against women and children.

The game’s boss executed the power for the first time on Friday on Manly’s Dylan Walker – who became the second player stood down under the NRL’s new “no fault” policy – with Walker out of the game until the conclusion of his court case.

Walker’s next hearing date is May 10.

However, Manly, the Dragons, Walker and de Belin could all consider taking legal action over the change in policy.

Meanwhile, the NRL has also come down hard on the Cronulla Sharks – who were fined a total of $1.25 million with $500,000 suspended. Of that, $250,000 is still payable is for breaching the salary cap over a number of years dating back to 2013, while a $500,000 fine applies for the club being contact with Shane Flanagan while he was suspended.

The Sharks will also have $707,000 cut from their salary cap allowance over the next two seasons.

Former coach Shane Flanagan has also been deregistered for an indefinite period of time.

Fairfax Chief Rugby League writer Adrian Proszenko also told Halftime with James Willis there could be a possibility of more penalties to Cronulla players.

“What Nick Weeks (chief operating officer) said was based on the evidence we have at this point we don’t have enough information to proceed with any action against players,” Proszenko said.

“But he didn’t rule out that potentially down the track that there will be more information, there will more evidence that they did knowingly take that money or knew of promises of money made to them, that this was off the books so to speak.

“They’ve left the door slightly ajar but as it stands, out of all the salary cap sandals, we still haven’t had a player or for that matter a manager put away and obviously that would be complicit.

“I suspect under the new accreditation scheme that has been done for managers – it’ll much easier for the NRL to sanction them.

“They were obviously a separate body, they’ve put a bit of rigour around compliance and the fact that like every other registered participant they have to comply by the rules.

“But retrospectively they weren’t able to do anything to the managers in this case.”

Wests Tigers will also have their $750,000 fine slashed in half and CEO Justin Pascoe will be allowed to return to the club mid-year – once he completes a six-month suspension after failing to disclose an ambassadorial agreement involving Robbie Farah.

Tigers’ forward Zane Musgrove also has had his request to be registered by the NRL refused until his own court case has concluded.

The NRL has also fined Canterbury enforcer Dylan Napa 10 percent of his 2019 salary following the publication of several lewd videos of him.

While North Queensland forward Scott Bolton has been suspended for 10 weeks and fined 5 percent of his salary after pleading guilty to common assault last year.

He can have his suspension halved if he agrees to address the captains and senior players of the other 15 teams during this year’s Magic Round.


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