Manly and Melbourne will each be fined $50,000 by the NRL over the fights at Brookvale Oval on Friday night with the Sea Eagles’ Glenn Stewart and the Storm’s Adam Blair today referred straight to the NRL judiciary while another eight players have been charged by the NRL match review committee following the brawl in Friday night’s clash at Brookvale Oval.
The immediate playing future of Stewart and Blair will now be up to three panel members to decide what punishment is handed down to them.
Eight other players face charges from the brawl ranging from contrary conduct to striking: Sisa Waqa, Bryan Norrie, Jaiman Lowe, Sika Manu, Darcy Lussick, Brett Stewart, Kieran Foran and Michael Robertson.
The breach notices outlining the fines will make no judgment on the actions of any of the 10 individual players who are the subject of judiciary charges (see notes below).
The fines are on the basis of the overall conduct of the teams and the damage their actions caused to the image and welfare of the game. Clubs will have five business days to respond to the breach notices.
“We need to remind everyone that the episode we saw on Friday night is wrong both for the behaviour in itself and for the image of the game,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.
“There are many fans, families and commercial partners who will simply walk away unless we send a clear message that what occurred will not be tolerated.
“There is a collective responsibility here that both clubs must share.
“Both clubs need to accept that what happened on Friday night is damaging to Rugby League and is disrespectful to those who play and follow the game.
“This isn’t a time for anyone to be looking for excuses or deflecting blame to others … both clubs need to face up to their responsibility for the overall behaviour of their players.
“The sight of so many players from both teams fighting, of people running in and leaving the bench area, was an horrendous look for the game.
“In a weekend when we should have been celebrating the heroic efforts of teams trying to secure places in the finals, the game has instead been sidetracked by a return to headlines that we all believed were part of the distant past.
“It bears remembering that our sponsors allocate their money carefully and for the sole purpose of enhancing their own brand.
“We must protect that because no sponsor who takes their association with the game seriously wants to be associated with such ugly scenes.
“Indeed it could be fairly said that our existing sponsors and those of our other clubs missed out on exposure this weekend because of the attention given to this episode.
“The game today is cleaner than it has been at any time in its history, with a judicial system that has been copied by our competitor codes, and we will preserve that position at all costs.”
In addition to the Match Review Committee, today a full operational review also took place into the extent of any breaches of the NRL’s Operational Procedures.
While there were breaches of the guidelines relating to sideline and bench procedures (the NRL has deemed that the overall fine on the clubs is sufficient to cover those breaches), the conduct of officials and trainers from both clubs did not warrant any action.
“In reviewing Friday night it has to be said that there were parties from both clubs who attempted to intervene in a positive manner and there were those who behaved with restraint,” Mr Gallop said.
“I commend them. Unfortunately there was so much that was clearly wrong on both sides that it is not appropriate to differentiate the teams to any degree.
“As a result of Friday night, referees will be instructed that, where multiple players are being sent off or sin binned, that each player will not be dismissed until the previous player has actually crossed the sideline.
“At that point it will be the club’s responsibility to escort each player immediately to their dressing-room.
“As much as we are keen to take any lessons that can be taken I stress that anyone who blames the referee for what happened on Friday night is wrong and that they are looking to escape the real issue at hand.”
The NRL Match Review Committee has issued eleven charges from Friday night’s game, including two for Adam Blair, while Canberra Raiders centre Joel Thompson was also charged with a grade 1 careless high tackle in his side's game against Penrith.
Judiciary report from Round 25
Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles) Contrary conduct – fighting (referred)
Adam Blair (Storm) Contrary conduct – fighting (referred)
Adam Blair (Storm) Striking – grade 2
Sisa Waqa (Storm) Detrimental conduct – grade 2
Bryan Norrie (Storm) Detrimental conduct – grade 1
Jaiman Lowe (Storm) Detrimental conduct – grade 1
Sika Manu (Storm) Detrimental conduct – grade 1
Darcy Lussick (Sea Eagles) Contrary conduct – grade 4
Brett Stewart (Sea Eagles) Contrary conduct – grade 3
Keiran Foran (Sea Eagles) Contrary conduct – grade 2
Michael Robertson (Sea Eagles) Contrary conduct – grade 1
Joel Thompson (Raiders) Careless high tackle – grade 1