NRL to take over dishing out player punishment
A FED-up NRL is poised to take charge of all off-field matters, leaving clubs without any power to penalise players for bringing the game into disrepute.
In a major development for the brand-damaged code, the NRL is considering becoming the sole regulator of all off-field offences.
Under the current protocol, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has proven a vocal supporter of allowing the 16 clubs to take the lead in all disciplinary matters related to their respective players.
It is widely accepted that the clubs know their players best, their backgrounds, their traits and therefore have a greater level of understanding as to why a player may have fallen foul off the field.
As a result, the NRL allows the respective club to deliver the disciplinary penalty for a player, be it a fine, suspension or a level of further education, before it is rubber-stamped by the NRL Integrity Unit.
However, after the past six months that has included 12 cases against players from 10 clubs, it is understood Mr Greenberg is preparing to table a new policy that would see the NRL disarm clubs from all their current disciplinary powers.
While some clubs will fight the change, there is increasing sentiment among others that the current system is a failure due to a lack of consistency in the punishments from one club to another.
Canberra Raiders chairman Dr Allan Hawke said the recent spate of off-field incidents and damage to the code is proof the NRL should take all matters out of the hands of the clubs.
"If it's up to the clubs to stand their player down or suspend him prior to the finals for falling foul off the field, the club just won't do it,'' Dr Hawke told The Sunday Telegraph.
"It's time the NRL takes everything out of the hands of the clubs and the whole disciplinary procedure sits with the NRL Integrity Unit. Then we might get some consistency in the decision-making.''
Mr Greenberg is poised to discuss the NRL becoming the new regulators of all off-field matters with the ARL Commission on Thursday.
The Commission is expected to announce on the same day a revised disciplinary code of conduct policy that allows the game to stand down St George-Illawarra's Jack de Belin, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated sexual assault.
Following a decision on whether de Belin can play while his case is determined in court, Mr Greenberg is expected to then meter out a string of penalties on Friday for other matters that have dogged the code for several months and have threatened to derail the 2019 season launch on March 7.
The issues Greenberg is likely to resolve include the Cronulla Sharks and Wests Tigers salary cap inquiry and whether suspended Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe will be out of the game for an extended period.
The coaching future of former Sharks coach Shane Flanagan will also be finalised, along with whether Canterbury's Dylan Napa will be suspended for his involvement in a lewd WhatsAp message which went viral.
The code will also be asked to address whether Manly's Dylan Walker is at risk of facing disciplinary action despite pleading not guilty to a domestic violence charge he will contest on Tuesday.