Broncos coach Kevin Walters has denied his club has player behaviour issues despite Payne Haas being suspended due to off-field issues for the second time in three seasons.
Haas on Monday accepted the three-game suspension and $50,000 fine handed down by the NRL for his intimidation of Tweed Heads police a month ago, a punishment Walters said he and the club fully supported.
The incident is the first major behavioural issue Walters has had to deal with since taking charge of the wooden spooners in November, but the latest in a series of off-field concerns over the past 12 months at Red Hill.
Injured centre Kotoni Staggs was recently served a breach notice over an altercation at a Dubbo hotel last year and is required to meet with NRL CEO Andrew Abdo and the Integrity Unit before being allowed to play again.
Fellow representative forward Tevita Pangai jnr was stood down without pay for the final seven games of 2020 for his repeated COVID-19 protocol breaches and can still have his contract terminated if he again breaches the code of conduct.
Ex-Broncos David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue were also involved in off-field incidents that saw the former arrested in Bali and the latter stood down for two games last year, while Haas was also issued a four-match ban at the start of 2019 for refusing to cooperate with and NRL investigation.
Haas suspended for three matches
In Brisbane's statement accepting Haas's punishment on Monday, CEO Paul White said "as a club, improving the behaviour of our players and strengthening our culture will remain a constant priority".
Walters too stressed he supported the NRL's stance, but said Haas's latest incident was not indicative of wider cultural issues at the club.
"Every player in the NRL is aware they've got to take some responsibility around their behaviour," Walters said.
"That's what needs to happen. We don't have a behavioural issue here.
"Payne is a great young fella. He's only 21 years of age and we all make mistakes.
"This was a big one from Payne and he's paying a big price for his mistake.
"Three games of NRL and a $50,000 fine - and again I support the NRL in their stance - Payne's made a mistake and he's paying for it."
Haas offered a second public apology on Monday for his behaviour towards police last month.
White and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo each emphasised the education and community service components of Haas's punishment.
Payne's made a mistake and he's paying for it.Kevin Walters
"We will now ensure that Payne receives the support and education he needs to make sure he learns from what happened here," White said.
"Mentoring, service in the community and spending time with police will be central to that process."
Haas had been touted for a potential leadership role before his arrest in Tweed Heads, a call-up Walters said wouldn't be beyond him in future years as he continues "learning about life and the responsibility that comes with playing rugby league, particularly for the Broncos".
The incoming coach also addressed his decision to walk out of an All Stars boxing media conference last week when he refused to take questions on the court verdict Haas had received a few hours earlier.
"This is the appropriate time to talk about what's happened with Payne," he said on Monday.
"We were waiting for the NRL to come down with their sanctions. Now that's happened today I'm happy to speak to the press and everyone about my thoughts with the incident.
"Obviously we're extremely disappointed. We certainly don't condone it, everything that went on that night, and knowing Payne as I do, I know he's very regretful and now it's about moving forward, paying the price and doing what we have to do to get Payne back on track."