NRL Statement regarding Benji Marshall
The National Rugby League has today received a report from Wests Tigers into the circumstances leading to an assault charge being laid against Benji Marshall yesterday.
The report indicates that after the player had conducted himself in an exemplary manner throughout the evening there was an allegation of an assault.
No other allegation of irresponsible behaviour or alcohol abuse has been suggested.
The NRL has also initiated its own inquiries into the matter and these will continue. To date, they support the Wests Tigers’ findings. The NRL reserves the right to consider and act on any further information that may arise.
NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today that the assault allegation remained a serious one and that given the circumstances it was likely to result in further significant action from the club or the NRL if proven.
The NRL does not at this stage have any evidence of misconduct on the part of Mr Marshall other than in relation to the matters that are the subject of the police charge and which appear to be in considerable dispute between the parties.
In the absence of any such evidence of misconduct, other than the police charge, the NRL is not in a position to take action against Mr Marshall at this stage.
“The only issue that would seem capable of attracting any penalty from the NRL in this matter is the one that will be determined in court,” Mr Gallop said.
“It may well be that Benji can successfully defend the allegation and he is entitled to that opportunity.
“Both he and the Wests Tigers, though, need to be aware that the seriousness of this matter and the importance of the week will dictate the need for strong action if he is unsuccessful in defending the charge.”
The NRL Board, through its most senior ARL and News Limited representatives, today made it clear that they did not wish to examine the matter at Board level at this stage.
The NRL has established clear precedents in relation to matters that are subject to determination by the courts.
In the case of matters where the events relating to a player being charged are in dispute and need to be determined by the court, and where there are no other allegations of serious misconduct, the NRL will await the court’s findings. Examples of this include Sandor Earl and Jake Friend, who faced an assault charge in 2009, and Anthony Laffranchi, who faced serious charges in 2006. Each was found not guilty and no further action was taken.
In the case of matters where the NRL finds a player’s behaviour has breached the NRL or the club’s code of conduct prior to him being charged, particularly in relation to alcohol abuse, the NRL reserves the right to act in regard to those matters that are not subject to dispute in the court. In the Brett Stewart case, the NRL publicly stated that it was suspending the player over conduct earlier in the evening and that it made no judgment in relation to the charge which was later to result in a ‘not guilty’ verdict. The jury made no finding in relation to events other than the sexual assault allegations.
In the case of an incident where a player is charged but where there are clearly established facts that breach the NRL or the club’s code of conduct, clubs and the NRL reserve the right to act without awaiting the determination of a court. This may or may not require further investigation depending on the severity of the matter and the complexity of its circumstance. Todd Carney’s recent penalty for driving with a low range ‘Prescribed Concentration of Alcohol’ would be such an example.
In all cases the NRL gives the club, as the player’s employer, the opportunity to examine all aspects of a matter and to impose any initial sanction.
The NRL will intervene where it believes the club has not acted appropriately and impose further sanction against the player or the club.