Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has dismissed suggestions of a booze culture at the club and claims he won’t stop his players from enjoying the occasional night out together.
The NRL premiers have been in lockdown for the most of this week in the wake of Mitchell Pearce’s arrest in Kings Cross last Saturday night.
Pearce was hit with a $20,000 fine by the club in addition to being stood down for Saturday’s clash with North Queensland.
He’s now in danger of missing the State of Origin opener on May 28 with NSW coach Laurie Daley believed to be considering axing the halfback as a result of his behaviour.
Blues back-rower Boyd Cordner was also fined $2,500 after he was ejected from the Clovelly Hotel with Pearce earlier in the day.
Several members of the Roosters squad had assembled at the pub, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, having watched the club’s SG Ball under-18’s side beat Penrith in their grand final at Leichhardt Oval.
But Robinson, speaking for the first time since the incident, said he has no problems with his players letting their hair down when the time is right.
“They really like spending time together especially when they have a long turnaround,” Robinson said.
“They are a close bunch, and the boys live all around Sydney and want to spend time together. Sometimes going to the pub is a way to do it.
“We have stood down lots of other players before that many of you (the media) wouldn’t know about. We have high standards here.”
Robinson said the Roosters have strict guidelines on when their players can or can’t drink and has no plans to alter them as a result of what happened to Pearce.
“We talk about when you can go out and when you can’t,” he said.
“On short turnarounds they can’t. This is a longer turnaround so it’s their choice.
“Me or the club putting restrictions on them doesn’t work. They need to learn to make good choices. For most the time they do.”
Robinson conceded the punishment meted out to Pearce was harsh and although he believes the incident has been blown out of proportion, players have to be more aware of their actions.
“We know we’re in the spotlight here,” he said.
“I think it’s a fair penalty but it’s harsh. But it’s where we are as a club,” he said.
“Pearcey’s been moved on from two places, it shouldn’t have happened and he got a fine.
“It has been a bit of a circus since Sunday. We’ve had media camped out here, people in trees … for something that was a normal nightclub scene.
“As much as we were disappointed with what happened, we love Pearcey, he is our halfback and one of our leaders and he strayed from that.”