Scott Bolton was stood down by the NRL during the week. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Scott Bolton was stood down by the NRL during the week. Picture: Zak Simmonds

Cowboys boss savages NRL’s Bolton call

Cowboys supremo Laurence Lancini has launched a savage attack on the NRL, labelling Scott Bolton's suspension a "disgrace" and accusing the ARL Commission of lacking leadership.

Lancini on Saturday delivered the biggest spray of his 14-year tenure as Cowboys chairman as the fallout continues from the NRL's controversial 'No Fault' stand-down policy following the code's summer of shame.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie formally announced the toughest crackdown on player behaviour on Thursday, standing down Dragons forward Jack de Belin indefinitely as he fights rape allegations.

The following day, Greenberg unveiled a raft of additional sanctions, including a 10-game ban for Cowboys prop Bolton, whose penalty will be halved by addressing all 16 clubs during the NRL's Magic Round in May.

Bolton was charged with indecently assaulting a female following an incident at a Sydney pub last May. The charge was later reduced to common assault, to which Bolton pleaded guilty, prompting the magistrate to impose a 12-month good behaviour bond.

Lancini, one of the code's longest-serving chairmen, was so outraged by the NRL's ban he attended League Central last Thursday for a face-to-face meeting with Greenberg, Beattie and chief-operating officer Nick Weeks.


Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini blasted the NRL’s decision.
Cowboys chairman Laurence Lancini blasted the NRL’s decision.


"This is a disgrace," Lancini fired.

"I want to make this clear, I do not condone anyone who does anything offensive to a women. Nor does our club. We showed that by sacking Ben Barba for an incident (involving his partner last month).

"But the treatment of Scott Bolton by the NRL is a joke.

"I was so furious I said to Nick Weeks, Peter Beattie and Todd Greenberg I want to speak to you privately. We went into a room (at the NRL) and I made my thoughts known.

"In Bolton's case, the NRL penalty is more severe than that handed out by our legal system."

Outlining the NRL's new policy on Thursday, Beattie said: "This is about rebuilding the reputation of rugby league. We are setting a benchmark and a standard to protect the game of rugby league."


Bolton’s suspension will be reduced if he addresses the other 15 NRL clubs. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Bolton’s suspension will be reduced if he addresses the other 15 NRL clubs. Picture: Alix Sweeney


But Lancini claims the code's bosses have caved in to public outrage following a slew of unsavoury recent off-field incidents involving sex tapes, alleged assaults, drink driving and rape allegations.

"There is no consistency with NRL sanctioning," said property tycoon Lancini, last year rated in Queensland's top 30 most influential people.

"The problem is there is no leadership in the game. I said that exact thing to Todd Greenberg and Peter Beattie.

"When the game is under pressure, they over-react.

"This stand-down policy is all knee-jerk stuff ... responding to public pressure.

"I said to Todd leadership is about being consistent and strong in the way you deal with matters.

"Good leaders don't get pressured by the media or public opinion. They lead from the front all the time."

Lancini is adamant the NRL's ban for Bolton is over the top.

"The magistrate hearing Bolton's case did not record a conviction," he said. "The magistrate agreed there was no attempt to indecently hurt the woman.

"He also said Scott would likely never offend again.

"Scott Bolton is one of the finest citizens in the NRL. He has been with our club since the age of 16. In 13 years, he has not caused one other problem. Not one. He was a cleanskin.

"Can you imagine if Scott had to go on some tour talking to the other 15 clubs about what happened. He would have been a mental wreck by the end of it. Who would have picked up the pieces then?

"Scott has gone through almost a year of humiliation. His matter was dealt with by the courts. Given his long service to the game he was entitled to have the backing of the NRL."