NRL clubs focus on off-the-field issues - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL clubs focus on off-the-field issues

15/07/2009 05:37:28 PM Comments (0)

NRL chief executive David Gallop says clubs must start taking responsibility for the behaviour of players following a year of alcohol-fuelled indiscretions.

After several incidents have tarnished the game's image this year, Gallop announced a series of tough measures aimed at putting the onus on clubs.

Already this year the Sydney Roosters have been embroiled in several off-field incidents including Nate Myles' shocking drunken incident at a Central Coast hotel which involved him defecating in a hotel corridor.

The game has also been hit by Manly star Brett Stewart facing sexual assault charges, Cronulla's Reni Maitua failing a drugs test and revelations former player Matthew Johns had been involved in a group sex scandal during a pre-season tour of New Zealand in 2002.

Add to that several boardrooms dramas including a series of revelations about former Sharks CEO Tony Zappia and it has been an awful year for the code's public relations.

But now the NRL's 16 club CEOs have struck an agreement with Gallop on the Gold Coast on Wednesday which means teams are now more accountable for signing players with poor behaviour records.

It means if that player then re-offends, similar to the drinking issues which forced Cronulla to sack former Brisbane halfback Brett Seymour, then the club will be facing substantial fines.

Gallop said the meeting's main focus had been on player behaviour and the time had come to draw a line in the sand.

"Reminding players they need to take responsibility, that suspensions and fines are now certainly on the cards and that you don't want to be the next guy that gets themselves in serious trouble and brings the game into disrepute," Gallop said.

All sanctions will be monitored by the NRL to ensure compliance and to ensure any penalty handed out is appropriate but Gallop says clubs know players' behaviour is not the NRL's responsibility.

"The clear message today was that clubs need to take responsibility for these issues themselves and give themselves an opportunity to set standards in their own organisations," he said.

"Certainly the NRL will have a monitoring role but ultimately it's going to come back to the relationship between players and their clubs.

"If they recruit a player with a record of bad behaviour then they can be held liable in a circumstance where that player finds himself in trouble again."

While he admitted the game had suffered some damage this season, Gallop said it remained in good shape.

"Our numbers are very healthy in terms of crowds and television ratings but we need to be conscious of the fact that these types of issues are going to damage the game, and damage our appeal to commercial partners," he said.

"If we get this stuff right then the game's commercial future can be very sound."

Gallop also said there was no support at the meeting for an independent committee to be set up to handle the issue of bad behaviour.

"The clear view out of the meeting was that clubs need to get the opportunity to discipline their own players," he said.

"It's unrealistic to think that we're not going to have episodes from time to time, but certainly I'd like to see clubs continue to take strong action, continue to deliver the right message about what the game's expectations are.

"Players are genuinely horrified that the actions of a minority can bring all of their names into question. Certainly a lot of players have made that clear to us over the last few months."

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