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Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.

Australian Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said the game had to take a stand on bad behaviour – even if only by a relatively small number of players – because of its wider potential to severely damage rugby league.  

"I support the NRL in its 'No Fault' stand-down solution," Meninga told

As one of the game's 13 Immortals, Meninga was consulted by NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg in the days leading up to the ARL Commission formulating a new behaviour policy if serious criminal charges are laid against players.

"I realise there is still a process of consultation to formulate all the finer points," Meninga said.

"But they [NRL] have an obligation to protect the game, uphold its good name and its brand."

Both the NSWRL and QRL will fall into line with any stand down order imposed by the NRL, preventing any banned player from taking the field in each state-based second tier competition.

"We supported the previous NRL policy and we will be supporting this one as well," NSWRL CEO Dave Trodden told

RLPA boss Ian Prendergast, whom Greenberg said would be included in the consultation of how the policy is drafted into a new NRL rule, was up front in opposing the stand-down idea totally.

But he floated the idea of incorporating a time limit into the new laws rather than unlimited suspension until a case moves through the legal system.

"That's a practical solution we believe the parties could work towards, but we don't support any compulsory stand down rule," he told

Earlier, at a press conference Prendergast supported the NRL's current policy of not interrupting the judicial passage of incidents, believing this "is fair and sensible".

"We're disappointed with the decision because it's a policy that directly impacts on the employment rights of our members," he said.

"We respect the Commission's view that it's a no-fault policy but the reality is by standing a player down indefinitely it undermines the player's right to be presumed innocent.

"It also has the potential to prejudice the parties rights to a fair hearing," he said, adding that players knew it was a complex issue the game was grappling with.

"By standing a player down in these circumstances, where the court is yet to determine the facts which are in dispute, we're causing irreparable damage to the player, given the short nature of a professional athlete's career.

"We're entering into really dangerous territory. From that point of view we believe a change of this nature is something that needs to be agreed with the players' association."

Prendergast did say there would be no strikes or other forms of industrial action by players.

But one of the options would be to try to amend, or even block, the new rule through the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) disputes process or by engaging lawyers themselves.

Prendergast said the RLPA's opposition to standing a player down indefinitely must not be misinterpreted.

"We want to reiterate that we are completely supportive of the game's strong stance in relation to violence against women. This is not a debate about that. There is no place in society, or in rugby league, for that," he said.

"However, we don't believe the intended outcome is achieved through this policy shift. We prefer to focus on a whole range of positive initiatives we believe will have a greater impact of lifting professional standards across the board and getting the game back on board."

Those initiatives would include deeper analysis of the culture of the game, player leadership, personal development and values.

"That would help them make better decisions regardless of what rules, regulations, polices, or penalties are in place. We strongly believe that will have a greater impact going forward.

"We understand the huge pressure the game is under over integrity-related incidents over the break and players understand things need to improve. But it's the cultural pieces that are going to have a bigger impact in the game.

"It's frustrating we're so reactive at the moment but that's natural based on those incidents which have occurred. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the work with the other stakeholders."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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