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NRL warned against pre-emptive punishments for bad behaviour

A former Rothmans Medalist has urged the NRL not to introduce mandatory penalties for players accused of serious offences.

Mike Eden, winner of the 1983 Rothmans Medal and practicing lawyer of 30 years, says the NRL should be wary of heading down the “slippery slope” of fining or suspending players before a case has been resolved by the courts.

“The NRL is in a very difficult position,” Eden told Macquarie Sports Radio‘s Cam Reddin. “They’ve got to give the player, the manager and the lawyer the chance for natural justice, to give their side of the story and then make a decision”.

“They do have to be penalised if they bring the game down, but we’ve got to be careful. Until [a player is] found guilty, it’s very difficult to come down hard,” Eden said.

A meeting of the ARL Commission on February 28 will examine potential avenues of approach to deal with the string of scandals that have plagued the game over summer.

One suggestion, put forward by club bosses on Friday, could see compulsory fines for players accused of bad behaviour, regardless of whether those claims have been proven in court.

“That’s why we’ve got jails. Someone is always going to do the wrong thing,” Eden said.

“Our game employs 15-35-year-old men. Statistically, they are the ones that get in trouble. They’re the ones in jail, they’re the ones drink-driving, they’re the ones making a mess of their life,” he said.

“Fortunately the players in our game… very few of them cross that line”.

Eden also encouraged the NRL to “spin it a bit better”, when handling the fallout of allegations leveled at players.

“They’ve got to tell people how much effort and time and money they’re putting into educating these players, and how few break the rules,” he said.

Click below to hear the full interview. Listen to the Weekend Warm-Up with Cam Reddin – 4.00am-7.00am Saturday and Sunday mornings.