League player in hot water
FURTHER sanctions are being considered against a player who defied a Group 2 judiciary suspension order and took part in organised rugby league activities during the summer.
The player was one of five under-18s charged with offences following a brawl in a match between Coffs Harbour and Nambucca Heads at Coronation Park on July 25 last year.
He received a six-match ban for fighting and terms of the suspension ruled him ineligible to participate as a player in any sanctioned match or take part in organised rugby league activities until the suspension order lapsed on April 11 this year.
It has been revealed he participated in official rugby league programs conducted by the Australian Institute of Sport, including a match played against the Canberra Raiders on January 15.
Evidence of the alleged breach included the identification of the player in an institute statement published online. The website featured nine photographs of the player taking part in the Raiders match.
Judiciary chairman Bill Gibbons has supplied this information and other documentation to Country Rugby League and requested advice on what further proceedings were available to his panel.
Judiciary powers entitle the panel to question the player regarding the allegations. It could order him to reappear, where further penalties can be imposed if a breach is proven.
Should he not appear before the panel, under the regulations he could be stood down from all rugby league until he did appear before a properly convened tribunal.
“We are very concerned about this matter and if there was an attempt to mislead or deliberately defy the suspension order we take the view that it’s a very serious matter,” Gibbons said.
“Consequently I have furnished details to CRL and taken the matter directly to Brian Johnson, head of the AIS program. He also has made it clear he will assist in the inquiry and does not condone players defying suspension orders.”
Gibbons said he gave details of the suspension to all relevant bodies, including the institute, at the time it was handed down and with the conventions and policies in place the player should not have been allowed to participate.
The Advocate attempted to put specific questions to Johnson but calls were not returned.
However, Group 2 chief administrator Jim Anderson confirmed he had spoken to Johnson and expressed widespread alarm within local league ranks that by participating in the Australian Institute of Sport program while under suspension the player could have caused another applicant who was not under a similar order to miss out on a funded scholarship.
“Mr Johnson has given me assurance this would not be the case,” Anderson said.
“In fact, after receiving our complaints he apologised and advised the player would not be considered for any further AIS activities.”
Requests to the club involved to furnish contact details so that the player’s family had an opportunity to comment were not returned.