‘We’re not being protected as public targets’: Plea by NRL stars amid crackdown on bad behaviour
23 February, 2021, 2:27 pm
Several high-profile NRL stars claim they don’t feel protected by the code when they are targeted in public as their union warned heavier sanctions for player misbehaviour “won’t be a silver bullet”.
As the Dragons prepare a response to the NRL over Corey Norman’s A$20,000 (NZ$21,600) fine and two-match ban – one game of which is suspended for 12 months – for his involvement in a Cronulla street fight last month, the RLPA has called for an immediate summit on the issue.
Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V’landys says he will clean up the NRL’s image despite NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller being blocked for a role at the game’s top table, predicting stiffer penalties for behavioural breaches.
But the RLPA has launched a strident defence of its members, warning Norman’s breach notice was excessive given his club St George Illawarra had a police report claiming he was the victim in the incident.
Close friend and former NRL player James Segeyaro alleged he was racially abused, and the pair claimed one of four men who attacked them threatened to pull a knife.
NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo admitted there was “a degree of provocation which led to the [Norman] incident”, but said “it was not an excuse to engage in a street fight”.
Segeyaro was last week cleared to return to the NRL after having a four-year provisional ban for testing positive to Ligandrol in 2019 slashed to 20 months.
Segeyaro argued to the NRL’s anti-doping tribunal he ingested the substance after sharing a blender with a housemate, who tendered evidence he had legally purchased the drug.
The backdated ban means he will be available to return to elite rugby league in June provided he secures a contract with an NRL club.