Roosters coach defends Friend punishment - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Roosters coach defends Friend punishment

18/03/2009 06:21:51 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters coach Brad Fittler says banning footballers from playing due to alcohol indiscretions is "pretty severe" and is adamant clubs should be responsible for handing out punishment.

The Roosters fined hooker Jake Friend $10,000 after he was charged with drink-driving, he blew three times the legal limit, while Cronulla halfback Brett Seymour has been stood down pending an investigation into his drunken behaviour last Sunday.

Both incidents will be discussed by the NRL board on Thursday with the possibility the league could overrule the clubs' punishments as they did last week for Manly star Brett Stewart, who was banned for four weeks.

"I understand the league is under a lot of pressure. I really do," Fittler said.

"In hindsight what happened to Brett Stewart seems pretty severe.

"But the league saw it fit given he was the pin-up boy for the league at the time that the penalty was necessary.

"We see our discipline committee doing the job for our players considering we employ them."

The Sharks have yet to decide what punishment Seymour will receive and the player could still play in Monday's home clash with Newcastle.

Some Sharks supporters have threatened to boycott the game if Seymour is stood down from playing.

"With current events in mind, it would be an understatement to say we are disappointed Brett has put himself in this position," said club CEO Tony Zappia in a statement.

"He is obviously slow on the uptake, showing a lack of responsibility to himself, his teammates and to the club."

The Roosters are content with their fine and rehabilitation program set out for Friend and hit back at critics who believe the player should be stood down.

Friend earns just $50,000 per year and the monetary punishment, 20 per cent of his annual wage, will hurt more than missing NRL games.

"A $10,000 fine considering what Jake earns a year is a really hefty fine," said Fittler.

"We see that as a very strong message to the players.

"I don't think we need to justify what we do in our disciplinary committee. They deal with every case on its merits.

"We don't care what other clubs do. We are happy with our disciplinary committee and the way it works at the moment.

"What it does is allows us to keep consistency and hopefully behaviour improves along the way.

"It is extremely disappointing what Jake did. No doubt he put a lot of people under pressure including himself, the general public who were on the road at the same time, his teammates and the club.

"Obviously we expect him to make better judgement in the future."

Asked if Friend had learnt his lesson Fittler replied: "I hope so, because he won't have much money left."

Friend is not the only Rooster in trouble, with young forward Anthony Cherrington currently stood down pending the outcome of his court case for assault later this month.

Cherrington, 19, has pleaded guilty to the assault of his girlfriend after he repeatedly struck her in the face and on her body, before approaching her with a knife, late last year.

Fittler defended his club's alcohol policy which prohibits any drinking except following a recovery session the day after a game.

He denied the policy promoted binge drinking.

"My policy promotes people thinking before they drink," he said.

"We don't allow them to drink after a game because then they are under fatigue and they're very emotional.

"We give them the day after. The earliest they could drink would be the following late afternoon evening and it gives them time to think about what they're doing.

"What they do the day after after we have our rehab and video is totally up to them.

"It is their spare time like everyone else in society so if a few of those blokes choose to go and watch the footy down at a hotel then that is their choice."

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