Tamou: ‘That’s not Nathan, something’s up’
Penrith captain James Tamou has revealed he initially did not believe that it was Nathan Cleary in images showing his teammate breaking social distancing rules.
The young playmaker was fined $10,000 (60 per cent suspended) and given a suspended one game for the breach on Anzac Day.
Cleary has until 5pm Friday to respond to the notice, which was handed down last Friday.
The NRL will make a decision on any further sanction Cleary once his response has been considered.
Tamou admitted he was shocked to see the images and the video because Cleary was normally an "introverted" character away from the field.
But the forward also said the 22-year old knows he did the wrong thing, has expressed his remorse over the incident and now just wants to focus on working hard ahead of the competition's restart on May 28.
"I'd seen the picture and my first thought was 'that's not Nathan, something's up'. I know Nathan, he's not that out there. He's more introverted than anything, it's not him [as a person]. He knows he's made a mistake and he's willing to cop it," Tamou said.
"He's pretty quiet … he's just pretty remorseful for what he's done. He is trying to do his best to put his head down and do his work."
The social distancing indiscretion has raised questions about Cleary's readiness to be part of the club's leadership group. But skipper Tamou believes the experience will only help Cleary grow into a better leader.
"It's a learning curve, he's still young. You forget that these are kids we are talking about and you live and you learn." Tamou said.
"You mess up and learn things along the way … most the stuff I did I wouldn't take it back because it made me who I am today. I know Nathan will look back at this and know what's right and what's wrong."
Tamou has been in Cleary's shoes in the past and knows the incident doesn't have to become a blight on his career.
In 2013, while still playing with the North Queensland Cowboys Tamou pleaded guilty to drink driving and driving without a licence.
"I know exactly what he's going through, I've been through exactly the same thing in my career when I was a bit younger. It's bloody tough because you feel like you've let everyone down and you feel so small. So I feel for him, he knows he's done wrong and he's ready to get back to work," he said.
Originally published as 'That's not Nathan, something's up'