Mount Panorama Bathurst

DJR Team Penske hit with hefty penalty over Bathurst “go slow”

Scott McLaughlin and Alex Premat have avoided being stripped of their Bathurst 1000 win, but DJR Team Penske has been hit with a massive fine after being found guilty of breaching FIA rules at Mount Panorama last weekend.

The team was under fire after Fabian Coulthard held up the rest of the field while the safety car was out, giving winner Scott McLaughlin vital seconds out front.

The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport launched an investigation into the controversial move and handed down their decision on Saturday.

As a result, DJR Team Penske has been slapped with a $250,000 fine and stripped of 300 points from their teams’ championship tally.

Fabian Coulthard and Tony D’Alberto’s #12 car was also dumped from sixth position to 21st in the race.

“We are prepared to assume that there was no intention to advantage Car #17, however, it defies belief that the Engineer of Car #12 just happened to have formed a mistaken belief that there was debris at some unknown location on the circuit and that just fortuitously resulted in the very problem anticipated with Car #12 being resolved,” Stewards said in their findings.

“We find, and it has been admitted, that in giving the direction to the Driver of Car #12, DJRTP infringed the principles of fairness in competition and behaved in an unsportsmanlike manner.

“We do not find that there was an attempt to influence the result of the Race but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the result was affected to a degree, certainly for Car #12 that would otherwise have re-joined the circuit after its pit stop in a much lower position.”

DJR Team Penske released a statement a short time ago, saying they accepted the penalties.

“After reviewing data from Car #12 following the Bathurst 1000 with the Stewards and Deputy Race Director, DJR Team Penske accepts the penalties issued related to the FIA International Sporting Code.

“The team will be making no further comment at this time.”

Stewards opted to suspend $100,000 of the fine until the end of 2021.

Footy Field

Storm’s Asofa-Solomona to miss Kiwi Tests

Melbourne Storm’s Nelson Asofa-Solomona will miss New Zealand’s three upcoming Tests as punishment for his involvement in an ugly Bali brawl.

The NRL and Storm also handed the Kiwi prop a suspended $15,000 fine but he is free to play in round one next season.

Asofa-Solomona will miss New Zealand’s match against Australia in Wollongong next Friday, as well as two Tests against Great Britain during the Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

It’s a huge blow for the Kiwis, already without injured forwards Jesse Bromwich (toe) and James Fisher-Harris (pectoral), with the NRL delivering the bad news to the NZRL.

The international penalty is similar to that of Greg Inglis, who was stripped of the Kangaroos captaincy and missed two Tests against New Zealand and Tonga 12 months ago after he pleaded guilty to drink-driving.

The Storm and the NRL integrity unit both completed investigations into the hulking forward’s role after shocking video emerged of him throwing wild punches at a man outside a bar.

It emerged that the 23-year-old was retaliating to Storm teammate Suliasi Vunivalu allegedly being king hit prior to the incident.

The NRL issued a statement on Friday saying the penalties took into account Asofa-Solomona’s cooperation into the investigation and remorse.

“The sanctions take into account evidence which showed a degree of provocation contributed to the incident, Asofa-Solomona’s cooperation with the NRL investigation and the remorse he has shown,” the statement said.

“All clubs were advised prior to the start of the off-season that serious penalties would be imposed for all off-field incidents.

“The NRL expects exemplary behaviour from all players and any player who falls short of that standard will be sanctioned.”

Vunivalu, who required stitches in his face, told News Corp he was punched in the head in an unprovoked attack.

“I didn’t see it coming. I was lucky I didn’t fall and hit my head because people would have been visiting in a coma from my hospital bed,” Vunivalu told The Daily Telegraph.

“He (Asofa-Solomona) was just protecting me. Anyone would’ve done the same thing for their brother. What do we want him to do? He is a footy player so he isn’t supposed to protect his mate? He would’ve done what any person would have done in his position.”

The penalty has been imposed in conjunction with the Melbourne Storm.

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has been informed of the suspension

Asofa-Solomona had the support of fellow NRL players including Cronulla star Andrew Fifita, who said he would have reacted in a similar manner if it was one of his teammates.

© AAP 2019

Mal Meninga, Dennis Watt, Rebecca Frizelle GC Titans

Meninga labels Titans’ sponsor “weak” after cutting ties over captain’s stumble

Gold Coast Titans Head of Performance and Culture Mal Meninga has slammed the decision by one of the club’s major sponsors to walk away over Ryan James’ Grand Final stumble.

Construction and event hire company TFH has informed the club it is cutting ties a year early, claiming James’ gaffe weighed heavily on its decision.

James was given the honour of giving the Welcome to Country at this month’s Grand Final, but forgot some of his lines towards the end of his speech.

TFH labelled James’ bungle as “embarrassing” and offensive”.

The company also blamed the club’s poor performance this season which saw the Titans end up with the wooden spoon.

TFH have been a sponsor of the Titans since 2012 and have stuck solid through other controversies.

Meninga has hit out TFH over their decision to walk away and for citing James’ speech as one of the reasons.

“I think it’s a pretty weak excuse,” Meninga told AAP.

“They have been great sponsors of the Titans for a long period of time. I know there are some other things in that letter sent to them (the club).

“But for that to be part of it, it’s in pretty poor taste.”

“Ryan was a little embarrassed by it all, but hey we forget things,” Meninga said.

“As I say to everyone, you put that on a scale of the negative things that happen in your life. It doesn’t even get a run to start off with.”

TFH remains a sponsor of both Manly and Cronulla.

NRL Grand Final to remain in Sydney

The NRL Grand Final will remain in Sydney for the next two years with the New South Wales Government striking a deal to keep the decider.

League bosses recently entered into a memorandum of understanding to keep the decider in the Harbour City until 2042, assuming the game would be played at ANZ Stadium.

But that deal was thrown into doubt when the State Government delayed a planned refurbishment of ANZ Stadium.

Work at ANZ was supposed to start at the end of this season was put off until after next year’s State of Origin which will see it out of action until late 2022 at the earliest.

Allianz Stadium is also out action after being knocked down for a total rebuild.

That allowed other States to potentially swoop in and steal the decider with Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia all showing interest.

All three States were apparently prepared to pay big bucks to have the Grand Final played at either Suncorp in Brisbane, the MCG or Optus Stadium in Perth.

But the New South Wales Government has put big bucks on the table to stop the game being hijacked.

Newscorp reports the NRL will receive $10 million to keep the decider in Sydney.

Under the deal, the 2020 and 2021 Grand Finals will be played at the SCG while the 2022 Grand Final will be played at the new Allianz Stadium.

NRL boss Todd Greenberg says the deal recognises the Government’s commitment to having world-class stadia, while also ensuring the game didn’t suffer any financial loss.

“I want to thank the NSW Government for our ongoing partnership. By 2023 the game will have three brand new state-of-the-art rugby league venues to ensure the optimum game day experience for our fans while our bottom line will not be impacted by using alternative Grand Final venues during the construction phase,’’ he said.

“This deal will benefit rugby league fans everywhere because it ensures we can continue to increase investment in grassroots participation right across the country.”

Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones says she’s gutted.

“There’s no way that New South Wales could beat us when it comes to the quality of our stadium the quality of our footy fans,” Ms Jones said.

“The only way that Gladys could win today was by pulling out the chequebook.”

Gold Coast Suns snare Crows star Hugh Greenwood

The Gold Coast Suns have secured star Adelaide Crows midfielder Hugh Greenwood in another big coup for the club.

With just over 24 hours left in the AFL Trade Period, the Suns got their man in exchange for future draft selections.

The Crows will get the Suns’ third and fourth round draft selections in 2020.

Greenwood has been with the Crows for the last three seasons and featured in their 2017 Grand Final side.

The 27-year-old says he’s thrilled to be heading to the Glitter Strip.

“I’m very excited to be here, it’s been a bit of a process, but to finally be here and be part of the Gold Coast football club, is very exciting,” Greenwood said.

“It’s a young, exciting and enthusiastic group and I’m just looking forward to slotting in and playing my role as part of it.

Greenwood said he was looking forward to helping shape the future of the club.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to within the four walls is really confident in the direction the club is heading.

“To be a part of that, something bigger than just myself as a player and to be able to help out where I can with the development of some of the younger guys, was a huge selling point for me.”

Suns List Manager Craig Cameron says it’s another boost for the club heading into 2020.

“Hugh is another mature big bodied midfielder that will add to our young group. He’s also excited about the opportunity to come to our club and help drive us forward,” Cameron said.

“In line with our strategy we we’re keen to target mature players who will complement our young group and are committed to help drive our club forward, Hugh definitely fits that criteria.”

The deal to snare Greenwood comes on the back of the Suns signing Richmond dual-Premiership winner Brandon Ellis at the beginning of the Trade Period.

Young gun Ben King committed to the club on Monday by extending his deal until the end of 2022.

The Suns are still hopeful of securing a deal with Geelong to get foundation player Zac Smith back to the Gold Coast.