A trio of misbehaving NRL stars have threatened the code’s season.
A trio of misbehaving NRL stars have threatened the code’s season.

‘Arrogant’ virus acts beggar belief

Rugby league just can't get out of its own way.

A day after the sport was rocked by news NRL stars Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell had not only broken social distancing regulations, but posted proof of their indiscretions to social media, the league's thumping headache was made even worse by a fresh scandal.

Nine News revealed photos showing Penrith and NSW halfback Nathan Cleary also flaunting social distancing rules in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.

He was pictured with at least five females, who reportedly visited his house briefly on Anzac Day.

According to Nine's Danny Weidler, the playmaker is "very, very apologetic about what has happened", but no amount of saying sorry will stop Australia from condemning the all-too-common theme of league players stepping out of line.


Nathan Cleary was caught breaking the rules on Anzac Day. Picture: Channel 9
Nathan Cleary was caught breaking the rules on Anzac Day. Picture: Channel 9

Former Panthers powerbroker, ex-NSW coach and Nine commentator Phil Gould said while the circumstances behind Cleary's breach were different to that of Mitchell and Addo-Carr, that shouldn't earn him any sympathy.

"No excuse. Serious breach. Granted Nathan says the incident was not planned, which obviously differs from the Josh/Latrell situation, however, players need to be vigilant," Gould tweeted. "They need to protect themselves, their teammates, and the game. For mine, blanket penalties should apply."

Gould said on Monday Mitchell and Addo-Carr should be suspended for the entire season, and he agreed the same penalty should apply to Cleary when it was put to him by a Twitter user.

He also said while the intent between the two cases was different, the "stupidity" and "seriousness" was not.

The NRL has announced it plans to restart its season on May 28 after the campaign was suspended at the conclusion of Round 2. The league needs to work with state governments and relevant health authorities to make sure it has the green light to go ahead, under the proviso it can guarantee all players and staff will follow strict isolation measures.

Incidents like those we've seen this week place the entire future of the game in jeopardy. Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys has said during this crisis it's up to the players to behave responsibly and ensure the season can continue, to save the code from financial ruin.

"There will be sanctions. We've got no option. There must be a deterrent because one reckless act will bring down an entire competition and the livelihoods that come with that," V'landys said recently.

But as examples of players behaving badly stack up, there remains doubt as to whether the country's footy stars can be trusted to uphold the necessary standards required to get back on the field.

It's a point Gould was keen to make clear.


The rest of Australia laid the boot into the "selfishness" of players as social media reacted to rugby league's latest black eye.

Many are feeling sorry for the NRL, which has been working tirelessly since coronavirus wreaked havoc to build a path back towards a season restart, only to see its efforts undermined by the very stars whose income and livelihoods the governing body is trying to protect.

In response to Cleary's scandal, former Nine journalist and presenter Chris Urquhart tweeted: "Another one. Why should the NRL be trusted to run a competition this year, let alone start it on May 28?"

Channel 7 sports presenter Jim Wilson wrote: "Draw a line in the sand, dumb and arrogant behaviour. The majority are towing the line but for those with no regard for the law, suspend them. End of story."







The Panthers released a short statement after news of Cleary's controversy broke, saying: "Penrith Panthers acknowledges the photos of Nathan Cleary being shared by the media in regards to social distancing regulations.

"The club was first made aware of the photos on Tuesday morning and immediately forwarded them to the NRL.

"The matter is now in the hands of the NRL and the club will be making no further comment at this stage."


Originally published as 'Arrogant' virus acts beggar belief

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