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Jennings forced to buy 2000 tickets

By David Beniuk And Steve Jancetic 12/08/2011 10:59:17 PM Comments (0)

NSW centre Michael Jennings was forced to buy 2000 tickets to Penrith's next home game and personally hand them out to fans on Friday night as part of his punishment for turning up to training under the influence of alcohol.

As the Panthers crashed 32-18 to Wests Tigers at Centrebet Stadium, their suspended star did a lap of the ground at halftime with two security guards handing out the tickets, worth $22 each for an estimated total of $44,000.

Earlier, Jennings had been told he was on his last chance with Penrith, having already been fined $10,000 earlier this year for consuming alcohol while injured.

He turned up to the club's final training run at 3:30pm on Thursday showing the effects of alcohol, and was sent home and dumped from the side to play the Tigers.

Coach Steve Georgallis said it had made for a tough night for the club, whose players have experienced a crackdown under high profile new manager of football operations Phil Gould.

"It does make it hard, he's one of our go-to players and obviously he wasn't playing," Georgallis said.

"But if he's at State of Origin or if he's injured, you've got to play without those players and we're not using that as an excuse."

But Georgallis denied he was angry.

"No, that's life," he said. "Our playing group is really, really strong, we've had a lot thrown at us in the last six or seven weeks and it's good life experience for a lot of those players and they're learning a lot."

Asked about the humiliating punishment, Georgallis said: "Michael's been disciplined, he'll probably go back tomorrow to play for (feeder club) Windsor, we'll probably decide that tonight after I talk to Gus (Gould), but he needs to play football so he's available for selection next week."

NRL elder statesman and Panthers skipper Petero Civoniceva could barely hide his frustration after a week in which Sydney Roosters serial bad boy Todd Carney was also stood down.

"I'm getting tired of seeing stuff like that, and I guess a lot gets made of it but I'd like to think there's a lot of boys out there that are doing the right thing, that are active in the community, training hard, responsible members of the community," Civoniceva said.

"You get a bit sick of it, don't you, but you move on."

Jennings' punishment may have hurt, but it was the threat from Gould which would no doubt have caused the 23-year-old flyer most angst.

"Obviously he's very disappointed and apologetic for what's gone on, but it can't be tolerated," Gould told reporters.

"He's been fined an undisclosed amount, he's been stood down from tonight's game and we move on from here.

"But he's pretty much on his last warning."

Jennings refused to speak to the media after his hearing or after Friday night's match.

On the same day Jennings was fined back in June, backrower Daine Laurie was sacked for drinking on a team flight.

NRL bad boy Arana Taumata has been stood down indefinitely and also faces the sack after he was charged with stealing a prescription pad.

Panthers officials refused to give away too many details as to the level or manner of Jennings' intoxication.

His Twitter account offered clues, though, with his final entry on Wednesday being the retweet of a promotion for an event at the Heritage Hotel in Penrith, featuring "free entry and drink specials".

He was due to line up at fullback against the Tigers, partly out of necessity with Lachlan Coote and Michael Gordon both unavailable.

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