The NRL has come down hard on players breaking social distancing rules, handing them big fines and leaving them with suspensions hanging over their heads.
It comes as Panthers star Nathan Cleary is the latest player to be caught out breaking the regulations, after photos emerged of him socialising with five women at his home on Anzac Day.
Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr,and Tyronne Roberts-Davis were fined $1000 by Police on Monday after photos were posted on social media of them camping with several other men.
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Mitchell and Addo-Carr both apologised, insisting the trip was partly for cultural reasons and they did not intentionally break the rules.
Cleary has not yet been fined by Police but is reportedly under investigation.
The NRL has now issued all four players with breach notices for bringing the game into disrepute.
Mitchell and Addo-Carr have both been fined $50,000 by the NRL with 60 per cent of that suspended for the rest of the season.
Cleary and Roberts-Davis have both been fined $10,000 with 60 per cent of that also suspended.
All four players have been given one game bans, suspended for the rest of the year.
The NRL has given them five days to respond to the breach notices before finalising their penalties.
League bosses have been left furious by the players’ actions as they desperately try and convince health officials that it’s safe for the game to resume next month.
The NRL has been working on strict protocols for players when they return to training next week, and when the competition restarts on May 28.
ARL Commission Chair Peter V’Landys says the players need to understand the consequences.
“The players have to understand that they are putting the game and the community at risk by their actions. It’s certainly hard to accept such behaviour when the game is doing everything it can to persuade the community that its players are responsible and behave appropriately,” V’Landys said.
“The penalties have been structured so as to give these players one further opportunity to demonstrate that they can be trusted. If they contravene again, then those parts of the penalty that have been suspended will be activated and they may also be subject to further sanction.”
Acting NRL CEO Andrew Abdo says the penalties reflect the seriousness of the breaches.
“These fines are significantly higher than public fines and the players know that if they step out of line between now and the competition starting or once the competition has started, they will be letting their teammates and the competition down and that is a significant penalty,” Abdo said.
Abdo has also defended the different penalties saying the circumstances were not the same.
“What’s happened with Latrell and Josh, is they have gone on a planned holiday in which there were activities involving camping, a wide number of people. You have all seen on social media the activities they got up to.
“That is very different to someone being at home and whilst it is still against the public health order it is a very different context to someone attending to your home in a very short unplanned period of time. “