That tirade was not directly aimed at the officials, but was part of Atkins’ post-match report and prompted Australian Rugby League Commission boss Peter V’landys to describe it as “intolerable”.
Acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo will speak to Fonua-Blake on Wednesday with the governing body poised to issue a fine on top of the two-game ban, prompting Cherry-Evans to claim any further time on the sidelines would be excessive.
“I’d be very surprised if that happened,” Cherry-Evans said. “I think as a player if you’re in the tunnel or off the field and venting your frustration indirectly, I feel like that’s OK.
“I’d be very surprised if anything more happened. Two games is a very big punishment based on the shortened season. Addin’s owned his mistake, he’s been punished accordingly and anything more than that … I would be really surprised to see it happen.”
Fonua-Blake is doubtful to even play in his proposed return match in any case given the Sea Eagles will travel to north Queensland to take on the Cowboys later this month.
The Tongan international is one of a small number of NRL players who have refused the flu shot, which the Queensland government required before clearing the code’s May 28 restart.
Addin’s owned his mistake, he’s been punished accordingly and anything more than that … I would be really surprised to see it happen
Fonua-Blake’s teammates described him as “very remorseful” and “a family man” having listened to the prop address the playing group on Monday.
“He’s owned it,” Cherry-Evans said. “He’s made a mistake and he’s apologetic. Everyone makes mistakes. The quicker you can own it and acknowledge you’ve done something wrong, hopefully you learn as an individual.
“I’ve learned a lot watching this unfold as to how sensitive that word is. I definitely didn’t understand the impact it has on some people.
“This is obviously an opportunity for all of us to understand how responsible we have to be for our own words.”
Thompson said: “If it has offended any family or any kids out there, we’re happy to have them at training and have a chat to them. We’re not like that, we’re not that type of club and he’s not that type of individual.”
The Sea Eagles have tumbled out of the top eight after back-to-back losses following injuries to superstar fullback Tom Trbojevic and five-eighth Dylan Walker.
Des Hasler’s side will take on the Dragons at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday night.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.