28 Mar 2009

League clubs keep right to discipline players

11:41 am on 28 March 2009

Australian rugby league clubs are to be left with the responsibility of punishing their players for off the field indiscretions.

A series of early season alcohol fuelled incidents had prompted the NRL to look at who was responsible for the good name of the sport.

But a meeting of club delegates, the players association and the NRL has decided that clubs will remain the first port of call when it comes to keeping their players in line.

The NRL will intervene only when it feels the punishment is inadequate.

The NRL has already had to step in twice this season to hand down punishments, most notably in the case of Manly fullback Brett Stewart following his drunken antics at the club's season launch.

Stewart is to face sexual assault charges at Manly Local Court next month but the club initially said it would be happy to see him keep playing pending the result of the court case.

The NRL intervened and banned Stewart for four matches, not in relation to the assault charges but for bringing the game into disrepute with his intoxication earlier in the evening.

Influential figures in the game such as veteran coach Wayne Bennett called for the responsibility for punishing players to be taken out of the hands of the clubs, given that they stand to lose the most when it comes to standing down a player.