NRL hits back at Manly attack - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL hits back at Manly attack

By Steve Jancetic and Ian McCullough 08/03/2011 04:45:00 PM Comments (0)

The NRL has hit back at claims of inconsistency from Manly over the league's handling of off-field incidents involving Sea Eagles fullback Brett Stewart and Wests Tigers star Benji Marshall.

The Sea Eagles on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the NRL for what it claims was "grossly unfair" treatment when Stewart was suspended for four matches and the club fined $100,000 over its boozy season launch in 2009.

Coincidentally, Stewart was cleared in court last year of a sexual assault charge stemming from the hours after that launch.

Manly were left incensed when the NRL on Monday said it would await the outcome of Marshall's court case before considering any sanction after he was charged with assault following a weekend incident.

The Sea Eagles believe the NRL acted too quickly in punishing Stewart two years ago, claiming there was no evidence the representative fullback was heavily intoxicated at the time the NRL said he breached its code of conduct with behaviour unrelated to the sex assault charge.

The NRL hit back though, claiming Manly's own report on the incident indicated Stewart was asked to leave the licensed premises where the Sea Eagles held their launch due to intoxication.

It was also noted the Sea Eagles admitted at the time that their alcohol management procedures were inadequate.

"It remains disappointing that this is being revisited at a time when Brett should be allowed to move on with everyone's support," NRL chief executive David Gallop said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Comments the NRL has made in relation to Brett Stewart in recent days have only been in reply to emotional accusations by Manly coach Des Hasler and questions from the media."

Manly chief executive Graham Lowe said the Sea Eagles supported the NRL's handling of the Marshall situation, with the Tigers star vowing to defend a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he appears in Downing Centre local court on April 20.

"In hindsight, in light of the NRL's most recent decisions in similar matters, the fact that Brett was suspended for four weeks and the club fined $100,000 would appear to be grossly unfair," Lowe said.

"The club doesn't take any issue with the recent decision of the NRL in the case of Benji Marshall.

"Allowing the legal process to take its course, without intervention, is the correct decision to take.

"The problem the Manly club and its supporters have is that the same support was not given to Brett Stewart."

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