The NRL found itself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons over the past week thanks to several stars flaunting government protocols put in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Nathan Cleary all came under the microscope after going against guidelines by being pictured and filmed with large gatherings.
The issue raged on throughout the week as the fines and penalties handed down were dissected by the media.
The weak financial penalties have divided the game and on Sunday led to star presenter Erin Molan shutting down rugby league legend Brad Fittler with a cutting reply to his suggestion the trio didn’t put any lives in danger when they broke self isolation rules.
Former players Paul Gallen and Fittler believe the fines to Mitchell and Addo-Carr were right on the mark, but Gallen questioned just what else they need to do.
“I think the 20,000 fine was on the mark. Rugby league players are held to a higher standard than the rest of society, I can understand that,” Gallen said.
“The rest of society get a $1000 fine for breaching these protocols, the players got that fine and then another $20,000 fine. So they are held 20,000 times more above the law than everybody else. How much more accountable do they need to be?”
“I do think the rest of society aren’t going out asking for their game to be allowed to play again, which is going to cost possibly our game 200-300 million,” Brad Fittler said.
“So I can understand that we do get held to a higher standard because we’re asking an awful lot of our government and a lot of their trust. I feel like there’s also a lot of cloud around what you’re allowed and not allowed to do and the first two of Latrell and Addo-Carr showed a lot of disrespect.
“On Latrell, you have to remember he was on that property for four weeks,” Gallen added.
“I don’t think that’s the issue that he was on that property, I think that’s his place of residence so that’s fine,” Erin Molan interjected.
Latrell and Addo-Carr went campingSource:Instagram
The argument then moved to Mitchell inviting Addo-Carr to the property where they camped along with other individuals.
“He has invited them. I think Josh Addo-Carr approached him and said my cousins are doing it tough and Latrell said I’m looking after the brothers, come on over,” Molan said.
“So he has consciously allowed them to come.”
Former player turned media personality Peter Sterling then steered the conversation down the path of what got under the skin of Aussies across the country and that was the entitlement behind NRL players. Things then got a little frosty on the panel.
“What’s distasteful The thing that people don’t like is the sense of entitlement. It’s almost we’re all in this together, except us.”
Paul Gallen: “But Sterlo can you understand the sense of entitlement, we have the NRL and Peter V’landys going out and doing something that no one else is allowed to do. The NRL is about to come back to play which no one else is allowed to do.”
P.S: “The players can’t transfer that onto individually that ‘well we can do things differently because our boss is trying to do something different’”.
P.G: “I just think it encases it all into one situation. It’s stupidity of what they’ve done and I think it’s a line in the sand moment and I’ve said that.”
P.S: “How many lines in the sand do we need Gal?”
P.G: “This is it, this is the line in the sand moment, it’s here.”
Erin Molan: “Do you think after two or three months, I don’t care if you don’t watch the news or if you don’t read newspapers, there is nobody in Australia that does not understand what was required of them? There is nobody that doesn’t understand that.”
P.G: “It was stupid and idiotic and they’ve been punished accordingly for it, what else do we want to see?”
E.M: “So suspensions, you don’t think they should be?”
P.G: “I don’t think they should be because that punishes the club. I think the hardest place to hit a bloke is in the back pocket and I honestly believe that.
Were the fines fair? 🤔
Sterlo and Gal are at loggerheads on whether the fines handed out for the coronavirus social distancing breaches were substantial enough.
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Brad Fittler: “I felt the punishment was appropriate because what they did do, they didn’t react to the media or to what other people thought. Now Gus (Phil Gould) came out and said they should be gone for the year, I like the fact that it looked like the league was actually sticking up for the players and clubs. They said to the players you’ve been stupid, you’re putting us all under a lot of pressure, but what we’re going to do is support you here. But if anyone else does it, it’s going to be a totally different fine, which I feel like that was appropriate for the situation.”
P.S: “This stupidity and entitlement is at a time like no other, like no other. There’s so much more at stake now than what has ever been when we’ve had player misbehaviour. That to me adds to the magnitude of the penalties and the offence because it is putting peoples lives at risk. The people who were on the property up there, we don’t know who they had been around and if you infect three other people it infects more and more.
“There’s so much more at risk in this present day, we can’t be talking about misbehaviour in the past because we’ve never been in this situation before.”
B.F: “I don’t think what they did was, I don’t think it put lives at risk really. Given the numbers and all that if you’re sitting down and the reality of what they actually did, I don’t think it put lives at risk. But I do think as unbelievably stupid and what they didn’t realise was they could be the face of a game losing $200 million.
E.M: “I think individually you’re saying they’re not really putting lives at risk, but if more and more people do it. You look at London and New York, there is a reason why Australia has a death toll that’s around 100 and why we are so incredibly blessed is because almost everyone is doing the right thing. All it takes is for a few people not to do the right thing. We are human beings and the virus is the same virus all over the world, we’re all the same humans and we can be impacted like everywhere else. There’s a reason we’re not and that is because most people are doing the right thing.”
"It is putting people's lives at risk!"
Sterlo delivers a brutal reality check for the NRL.
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