A “frustrated, angry and embarrassed” Todd Greenberg says he has laid down the law to all 16 NRL clubs, demanding their players take responsibility after a horror off-season.
The NRL CEO on Monday revealed that he’d delivered a stern directive during a phone hook-up with the game’s club captains, telling them to deliver a message to their players.
On his first day back at Rugby League Central after a post-season break, Greenberg took time out to attempt to halt the game’s avalanche of negative press.
He said there was “no doubt” rugby league’s reputation had taken a battering after a summer marred by ugly headlines about player misbehaviour.
— NRL on Nine (@NRLonNine) January 21, 2019
“The message was simple, go back to your players, from your junior players right through to the top, and explain to them the standards that have been set, explain to them that damaging the game also damages them individually,” Greenberg told the Nine Network.
“If you make a bad decision as a player, you put your livelihood at risk. It’s a great, great honour to work in the game. It’s not a privilege.”
Jarryd Hayne, Jack de Belin, Dylan Walker, Zane Musgrove and Liam Coleman have all been charged by police for offences against women.
Dylan Napa was the subject of several damaging videos that included one of him having sex with a woman, while a video of Corey Norman watching on as an elderly man snorted cocaine was also leaked.
Newcastle’s Jacob Saifiti suffered a broken leg during a fight outside a pub while teammate Tautau Moga’s future is in doubt after he was alleged to have slapped a taxi driver.
Greg Inglis pleaded guilty to drink-driving, Michael Chee Kam was charged with common assault, and Jaeman Salmon convicted of low-level drink-driving.
Canterbury’s Mad Monday saga also left officials red-faced.
The litany of scandals coincided with North Queensland’s Scott Bolton pleading guilty to assault after grabbing a woman at a Sydney bar during the 2018 season, and came on the heels of Jack Wighton being handed a two-month suspended sentence and $3500 fine for a string of charges resulting from a drunken rampage.
“I asked the 16 captains to step off the training field and stand with their CEOs and it was a pretty simple message – we need to be better,” Greenberg said.
“The game needs to grow up in a lot of areas and some of the things I’ve seen have just been stupid.
“I remind all players to consider carefully what you post online or in WhatsApp messages because the potential for these messages to get out is large.”