Klemmer urges NRL players to own their image
Newcastle recruit David Klemmer has urged players to take responsibility for their own image after a spate of off-field incidents exploded across the NRL over the weekend.
Representative prop Dylan Napa, who will replace Klemmer at the Bulldogs in 2019, has been embroiled in an unsavoury sex tape scandal with several videos emerging online, while Knights centre Tautau Moga was charged with common assault after allegedly slapping a taxi driver twice in the head on Boxing Day.
It was also reported star halfback Mitchell Pearce is being investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit following an alleged incident at a wedding.
"It's disappointing, but some of the things, especially with Dylan Napa, you've got to feel for the bloke. You can't control that. He didn't put it out there. Some of the things you can't control and some things you can. It's a hard one," Klemmer told media on Monday.
"People make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes in their lives but as professionals, this is our job we've got to do and we've just got to keep moving forward and protect this brand."
It follows an unprecedented off-season of controversy in which several players have been charged with domestic, common and sexual assault as well as general misbehaviour.
Knights boss Phil Gardner has taken the extraordinary step of enforcing tough financial penalties - up to 25 per cent of a player's salary - to come down hard on players who misbehave to stamp out negative headlines.
Jacob Saifiti was the first to be hit with a whopping fine of $50,000 with half suspended after breaking his leg in an altercation at a Newcastle pub.
Klemmer said while the club had spoken to players about their responsibilities in public, the onus needs to be on the individual.
"As a professional athlete you've got to own that. Everyone in this world makes mistakes. We've just got to fix those mistakes so they don't happen again," he said.
"Obviously we're trying to build the brand and we're trying to build a new [culture] here."
Fellow Knights prop Josh King said while negative headlines are disappointing, it hasn't derailed the team's focus for improving their results in 2019.
Homegrown King made his debut with the Knights in 2016 and endured two wooden-spoon seasons with the club in 2016 and 2017.
He refuses to let the behaviour of a few ruin the team's chance to play finals football this year.
"I guess it's not a positive thing for the club, but the club's dealing with it. As a player we haven't talked about it at all. We haven't focused on that. Our focus is on footy, we're not here to focus on that sort of stuff. Everyone is in a good, positive headspace at the moment and we're committed to training," he said.
"Everyone knows our responsibilities. We've had spoken about that many times and as young men we know our responsibilities in public. Everyone makes mistakes I guess, but that's in the past now. We can only move on."