The NRL has hit Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Nathan Cleary and Tyronne Roberts-Davis with breach notices for bringing the game into disrepute but stopped short of banning them.
Instead, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys said the players were getting one last chance to “demonstrate they can be trusted”.
Each player copped a financial penalty, with Addo-Carr and Mitchell whacked with huge fines.
In a statement released by the NRL on Tuesday afternoon, Mitchell, Addo-Carr, Roberts-Davis and Cleary were told they’d shown a disregard for public health orders, guidelines and advice and, in doing so, brought significant reputational damage to the NRL.
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Addo-Carr and Mitchell were both slapped with $50,000 fines, although $30,000 of each fine will be suspended. Roberts-Davis and Cleary were both handed $10,000 fines with $6000 of that amount suspended.
All four players were given one-match bans that will be suspended for the remainder of the 2020 season.
“The penalties have been structured so as to give these players one further opportunity to demonstrate that they can be trusted,” V’landys said in the statement.
“If they contravene again, then those parts of the penalty that have been suspended will be activated and they may also be subject to further sanction.”
The NRL’s acting chief executive Andrew Abdo gave a brief media conference, his first since taking the top job from Todd Greenberg, to announce the sanctions.
He said the penalties were much heavier than what the general public were subject to for similar offences.
“Every circumstance is different and these matters are complex,” Abdo said.
“We’ve had a look at each circumstance on the facts available to us, and we believe that this is an opportunity for us to provide the players with a significant sanction, but at the same time, they have an opportunity to think about what they do between now and us restarting the competition.
“The sanctions proposed today are stronger than fines which can be imposed by authorities because we hold our players to a higher standard and they must set a higher standard for the community.
“We are focused on resuming the competition on May 28, something our fans and stakeholders are excited about. Players who do not comply with community and NRL protocols will face sanction.”
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V’landys has been on the front line for the last six weeks attempting to find a way to get the NRL back on the field.
He said obeying the current restrictions was a “critical requirement”.
“The players have a responsibility to the game and community. It is important that, in these challenging times, we all have to work together to combat COVID-19 and compliance with public health orders is a critical requirement,” he said.
“The players have to understand that they are putting the game and the community at risk by their actions. It’s certainly hard to accept such behaviour when the game is doing everything it can to persuade the community that its players are responsible and behave appropriately.”
The penalties were handed down by the NRL on the same day that Mitchell walked into Taree police station to surrender three firearms and his gun licence, which has been suspended.
The Souths star is expected to be charged under a section of the NSW Firearms act.