No place in NRL for domestic violence: Smith
"There's absolutely no place for domestic violence in our game."
That was the message from outgoing NRL chief executive Dave Smith after announcing his departure from the helm of the organisation.
In light of recent claims of domestic violence involving rugby league legends Hazem El Masri and Rhys Wesser alongside Matt Lodge's alleged behaviour in the United States, Smith said it was important for the game to continue stamping out such matters with the NRL being a reflection of society.
"It's abhorrent for us; it's abhorrent to the Commission. It's an area we feel very strongly about stamping it out as best we can. I don't the exact details of [El Masri's] case but any ambassadorial role that he had with us, he's been stood down from," Smith said after announcing his departure as CEO on Tuesday.
"By and large we're a proxy for the community and I think these things happen across our community sadly. The competency with which we deal with these issues, the policy and procedure which we are getting stronger and tighter around mean that off the field there is a strengthening of the game.
"Ultimately it means you get more fans. You get more women and girls watching the game and that's what we want. We've seen the profile of some our events change as more people become interested in the game.
"Anybody who watched Johnathan Thurston and watched his sensitivity post-match with his little daughter and the sensitivity of 99.9 percent of our players, you recognise we're a pretty good sport. But sometimes things go wrong and we stand strongly against domestic violence and we stand strongly against some of those social issues."
Smith said the work the NRL has done in line with the Australian Rugby League Commission and the league's Integrity Unit was a step in the right direction.
"The work we have done with the Integrity Unit and with the Commission over the past three years will absolutely continue and will continue to be strong on those points because ultimately that's what society, the community and the fans expect," Smith said.
"They work hard week-in, week-out and don't want to read about this rubbish of our players getting themselves into trouble. People have to make good choices and if they don't there are consequences.
"I think we have done an amazing job in moving forward in a very complex set of areas of strengthening these standards. If you look across the clubs as well, you'll probably see a completely different positioning and that's set to continue.
"As the governing body we have a responsibility not only to our code but to our broader leadership position in the community."