'It is like he lost half of himself': Melrose
RUGBY LEAGUE: The moment he found out he would not be playing rugby league alongside his brother, Jay, for two years, Brogan Melrose was left gutted.
The crafty fullback came to Nambucca Heads this season to link up with his older brother, and the link between the two talented players has been impressive.
But when 26-year-old Jay was handed a suspension until October 31, 2018 by a Group 2 special committee, all their dreams of playing together were stripped away.
"We're all gutted, it literally feels like they have taken away a part of him,” Brogan told The Daily Examiner. "Without him playing rugby league it is like he lost half of himself.
"Our family is made around sport, around rugby league. We haven't had the best upbringing, but league is what got us through.”
Melrose, 22, was playing in the match at Frank McGuren Field, where a post-match incident erupted between players and spectators with his Jay at the centre of it.
Brogan stood by his brothers actions, which he claim's have been misrepresented, after the star halfback was at the mercy of a parochial Grafton crowd.
"All he was doing was protecting the people he loved,” Melrose said. "(The crowd) was just feeding him. They were calling my mum a s*** and a wh***. If anyone in the whole world heard that about their mother, they would react as well.”
Melrose said his older brother walked into the crowd following the match, and pointed out the spectator in question before motioning for him to go outside. Eye- witness reports from spectators at the game stated Melrose charged at a crowd member, but Brogan did not believe it.
"I feel like he has been unfairly targeted,” he said. "He didn't hit no one, he didn't charge at anyone. He walked out to the gate, met his heavily pregnant girlfriend and she walked him back to the dressing rooms.”
While the Group have stated Melrose pleaded guilty to both charges brought against him - breaching the national code for rugby league and player misconduct - his younger brother believes he only pleaded guilty to one charge of player misconduct.
Group 2 officials confirmed Melrose's prior judiciary record, which included a lengthy suspension for allegedly threatening the life of a referee, came into their decision on the punishment.
"I just want him to be treated fairly, I absolutely don't think he has been,” Melrose said. "It is breaking all of our hearts, he is being portrayed as what he is not.”
Brogan said the club and his family plan to fight to have the ban downgraded.
"I'll fight for my family until it can't be fought anymore.”
Nambucca Heads has already lodged an appeal to the ban with Region 1 manager Kevin Hill who said it will not be a short process by any means.
There are very specific guidelines for appeals,” Hill told Fairfax Media.
"The paperwork will go to a review panel to see if it meets the criteria and if so, I will then find three independent delegates who will hear the appeal.”