The NRL may yet extend a suspension for Manly’s Addin Fonua-Blake after a review found he breached the league’s anti-vilification code.
- Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake called referee Grant Atkins a “f***ing retard” after a decision went against his side
- He was initially suspended for two weeks but that could now be increased
- NRL boss Andrew Abdo said he wants to speak to the player and the club before deciding on any extra penalty
Fonua-Blake was caught on a live microphone calling referee Grant Atkins a “f***ing retard” after Sunday’s loss to Newcastle.
The argument came after the video referee ruled the Knights had done nothing wrong in preventing what would have been a game-winning try for Manly.
Newcastle centre Bradman Best pushed Manly winger Tevita Funa just after he grubbered through in the final seconds of the game, and video referee Jared Maxwell found no infringement.
That decision that was compared unfavourably with a four-week ban that was handed to Bulldogs captain James Graham in 2015, but that was a combined penalty for a nasty tackle and dissent towards referee Gerard Sutton.
On Tuesday, Manly released a video of Fonua-Blake answering questions from the club about the incident, saying he did not understand how harmful his words were.
“Now that I know what it means I’m very apologetic. I didn’t mean any harm and I didn’t mean to use it in a derogatory type of way to offend anyone. If I have offended anyone, I am very sorry.”
He also addressed reports that he further insulted the referees in the tunnel after the game, but did not say what he said.
“I remember walking back into the sheds and speaking there loudly. I wasn’t aware that the refs were in the tunnels and they must have heard me say what I said in the sheds,” he said.
“I didn’t say it directly to their face, it was just me venting out loud in the sheds and they happened to hear it.”
NRL to speak to Fonua-Blake before deciding on next step
About half an hour after Fonua-Blake’s video landed on the team’s website, the NRL released a statement saying a review of the match had found a breach of the anti-vilification code, in addition to the contrary conduct charge for which he copped a two-week ban.
“What happened on Sunday was divisive and against the fabric of what we stand for as a game,” NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo said.
“There is no place for comments like that in our game. Sport is about bringing people and communities together and we pride ourselves on being an inclusive game for everyone.
“Now that the match review process is complete, I want to speak directly with Addin and the club about the incidents before determining any penalty.
“This is more than a simple sanction. It’s important there is an education and rehabilitation component to issues like this to ensure players learn from these mistakes and realise the impact of their actions on the community.”
Fonua-Blake said he apologised to the referees in person after the game as well as putting out a public statement via the club on Sunday night.
“Referees have a very tough job and we all need to respect their decisions even when we may not agree with them,” Fonua-Blake said.
“I should not have let my emotions get the better of me and I am very sorry for the comments I made.”