The Australian Rugby League Commission and North Queensland Cowboys have today stood down halfback Robert Lui for the remainder of the 2012 Telstra Premiership.
After meetings today with both Cowboys Chief Executive, Mr Peter Jourdain, and representatives from the Sharks at Rugby League Central, the ARLC and Cronulla also agreed to impose a nine-match suspension on Sharks player Isaac Gordon, who has been serving an indefinite suspension since the start of the season and will now be eligible to play in Round 10.
At today’s meeting the Cowboys outlined a counselling program that will continue to assist Robert’s partner Tahleah, his son and Robert over the coming months.
“The Cowboys and Sharks have joined the ARLC in making a clear statement about the need to prevent violence against women,” ARL Commission Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said
“With regard to Robert Lui, he has been suspended since the day of his guilty verdict and there has been a need since then to consider the welfare of Robert’s partner Tahleah, his son, and Robert’s own ongoing welfare in what is a difficult family circumstance.
“The Cowboys are not taking that responsibility lightly and it has been important to give the club and the family time to fully comprehend the circumstance of the judgment and the most effective ways to move forward before confirming a penalty.
“At the same time there is a need to send a strong message to the community and, as the first sport to make such an emphatic statement, we would encourage others to follow Rugby League’s lead in the future.
“Rugby League has been a founding member of the White Ribbon campaign to end violence against women, it is an active participant in the Federal Government’s Reducing Violence Against Women project and has ambassadors like David Peachey and Nathan Blacklock co-ordinating 21 grass-roots clubs this year in the NSW Government’s ‘Tackling Domestic Violence’ program.
“Through ‘Playing By The Rules’ programs that have set international standards in promoting positive attitudes to women, through the participation of past and present players as trained educators in ‘Respectful Relationships’ and sexual ethics programs and through the growing number of women actively involved in the game’s administration, Rugby League has demonstrated a conviction that goes far beyond simply saying the right thing.”
Cowboys Chief Executive, Mr Peter Jourdain, added: “It is important to remember that we are dealing with real lives and our first priority from the moment we stood Robert down from playing has been the ongoing welfare of Tahleah, his son, as well as Robert.
“We ensured Robert did not play while those matters were professionally assessed and the club will continue to provide ongoing counselling for Robert and support for his partner and son, who remain very much together as a family.”
Sharks player Isaac Gordon pleaded guilty to a lesser assault charge than Lui but one that nevertheless involves a domestic violence issue.
He will not be permitted to return to the field until Round 10 and will be required to continue the counselling program that he has already commenced.
The Sharks have already imposed an undisclosed fine and have been working with Isaac through an ongoing counselling program.
“It is not possible to go into all the details of the private lives of those involved but having reviewed the circumstances we accept that this is an appropriate outcome,” Mr Gallop said.
“That said, it is important that we have taken the time to work with the club to try and comprehend the issues involved.
“As much as people may call for automatic penalties, they are neither fair nor practical given the divergent circumstances and the degrees of severity that can be involved.
“These are matters that must be looked at in the context of each individual circumstance.”
Sharks General Manger Football Darren Mooney added: “Isaac knows he did the wrong thing and it was completely out of character for someone who has never had a disciplinary issue of any kind.
“He accepts the need for a penalty but, more importantly, he accepts and has been an active partner in dealing with this issue through counselling and rehabilitation and the club will continue to work through this process with Isaac.”