RUGBY LEAGUE: Roosters stand behind suspended halfback
RUGBY LEAGUE: Nambucca Heads Roosters have said they will fight a two-year charge against star halfback Jay Melrose to ensure he is not rubbed out of the game.
The 2015 Group 2 Player of the Year, was handed a suspension until October 31, 2018 at a special committee hearing last Tuesday at Group 2 headquarters.
The suspension came as a result of an incident involving players and spectators at the conclusion of the first grade clash between the Roosters and Grafton Ghosts at Frank McGuren Field on March 25.
While Roosters club president Scott Cosstick acknowledged Melrose pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him, he said the punishment was far from befitting the crime.
"It is not good to have anyone rubbed out for two seasons," he said. "It is not good to have misconceptions of what actually happened and basic lies go to the judiciary either.
"We need to clean the game up and there are ways of doing it, but that is not one."
Melrose was charged with breaching the national code of conduct for rugby league and one count of player misconduct after he jumped the fence to approach a spectator in the Ghosts' crowd.
Cosstick said while Melrose could have chosen a different approach, he said he had copped racial abuse from the crowd and that it had understandably pushed him past a point.
"There was a torrent of racial abuse directed at Jay," he said. "They want to just hark on about a fellow going into the crowd, but they made no mention of the abuse. It has got no place in the game."
Cosstick levelled a scathing critique of Group 2 following the incident, claiming the Group had targeted the Nambucca Heads first grade side and one of their best players.
"What they are trying to do is to rub players out of the game for being good players," he said.
"I have been around rugby league for a long time, but I have never known a group as backwards as this one."
The club has the opportunity to appeal the sentence given to Melrose, but will need to take it to a hearing with a regional board.
It will be an uphill battle for the Roosters, after Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn came out in support of the decision made by Group 2.
"Country Rugby League fully supports Group Two Rugby League's decision to send a strong warning to players and spectators about their behaviour," Quinn said.
"The Rugby League Code of Conduct provides all participants - players, parents, coaches, referees, spectators and officials - with simple rules that assist in delivering a safe and positive environment to everyone involved in the game.
"Everyone who attends Rugby League matches has a right to feel safe and I commend Group 2 on their action taken."