Radical plan to solve NRL’s bad boy crisis
MISBEHAVING NRL players could face immediate and compulsory fines imposed by their clubs under a radical plan to punish those guilty of tarnishing the image of rugby league.
NRL CEOs will get together and discuss the idea at a high-powered conference in Melbourne on Friday as a way of combatting the non-stop negative headlines surrounding the sport.
The Daily Telegraph broke the story on Wednesday night and reported that the proposal would be similar to that introduced at Newcastle by CEO Phil Gardner.
Gardner fined forward Jacob Saifiti $50,000 after the prop was knocked out - and broke a leg - during a pub fight before Christmas. That fine equated to 25 per cent of his salary.
A player could be fined up to 10 per cent of his contract earnings for a first offence under the proposal but that would be increased to 25 per cent for a second offence.
Under the plan, no player would be exempt from the fining system. More serious off-field behaviour would still result in players being sacked.
One CEO told the Telegraph that "the fines have to be substantial. It would be a compulsory fine - not discretionary. It would be a per cent of his playing fee - that would really whack them.
"Players would be fined, not suspended. A player on $1m a year, for example, could be fined for four games - a total of around $170,000."
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg will reiterate to club CEOs on Friday the importance of player behaviour.
"I've been very clear about the damage which the recent incidents have had and will have on the game as a whole. The damage is significant," Greenberg told The Daily Telegraph.
"That's why it is so important to ensure we - as a game - change behaviours and attitudes. Clearly player behaviour is a focus for the game right now and as a result will be a key discussion point on Friday.
"I have already held a phone hook-up with all club CEOs and captains but when we get an opportunity it is important that we have a meaningful discussion as a group.
"As a game we should be united in ensuring damage to the game from off-field incidents is significantly reduced."
Penrith CEO Brian Fletcher said his players had been told repeatedly about the importance of staying out of strife.
"We can't give our players anymore instructions. It's been talked about for the last four months. Our players have been addressed on a lot of occasions," Fletcher said. "Education-wise, we can't do anymore.
"They've got the message by now. If they step out of line in those areas, domestic violence, they've got only themselves to blame. They know the rules. How many times can you tell them? It could be career-ending, as simple as that."
South Sydney chief executive Blake Solly laid out why Friday's meeting could be dominated by the proposal.
"The CEOs I have spoken to are of the view that we should spend as long as we need on Friday discussing it," said Solly. "We are happy to be let by Todd and his management team.
"It's a big issue for the game to confront and we should be devoting as much time as we need to consider and discuss better ways and solutions to the current challenges.
"I don't think there is any one magic wand or a silver bullet solution. What we're dealing with is going to have to be across a range of activities from education training, wellbeing and sanctions for people who misbehave.
"Clubs, the game and the RLPA have to be as open-minded as we can be. What's happened over a period of time, with sanctions for off-field misconduct, player education and wellbeing, has kind of grown in a patchwork manner.
"The challenges are such that there isn't going to be an easy off-the-shelf, one-item solution. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is. But there is a great desire among the CEO's, the game and RLPA to address these challenges."