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Munster to enter rehab as NRL, Storm issue penalties

Cameron Munster is on his last chance with the Storm and will enter a rehabilitation facility on Wednesday with a $100,000 fine hanging over his head if he breaches a 12-month alcohol ban.

The Test and Origin playmaker was one of four NRL players – along with Melbourne team-mates Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis, and Warriors teen star Reece Walsh – hit with provisional suspensions and fines ranging from $4000 to $30,000 by the NRL over off-field incidents on Tuesday.

Munster, Smith and Lewis each face provisional one-match bans as well as fines proportionate to their salaries after featuring in videos which emerged on September 27 and 28 depicting them acting in a manner that bought the game into disrepute.

Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster.
Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Walsh faces missing the first two matches of next season and being fined $5000 for failing to comply with the NRL’s code of conduct and bringing the game into disrepute after being charged with contravening a police direction and drug possession on September 25.

All four players have five days to respond to the breach notices before any sanctions are formalised.

All four must also complete education and training as directed by the NRL.

"I understand that players have endured a long season under strict protocols,” NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said. "However, there is no excuse for the behaviour we have seen over the past week.

"The players have let themselves, their clubs and the rugby league community down.

Storm hooker Brandon Smith.
Storm hooker Brandon Smith. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

"These sanctions are designed to include an element of rehabilitation and development as well as having consequences for the individual and team."

The Storm imposed their own penalties and Munster, Smith and Lewis publicly apologised during a Zoom media conference on Tuesday.

They acknowledged that the incidents detracted from coverage leading up to the grand final between Penrith and South Sydney.

Munster, who has relinquished his place in the Storm leadership group, said he had a "difficult relationship with alcohol" and was now taking steps to overcome that.

"Earlier this week I made a decision in consultation with the club’s doctor to seek some help to seek some help with this battle," Munster said.

"Starting tomorrow I will be attending a treatment facility for the next four weeks.

"I want all kids out there to know that my behaviour was not okay. I want to be a better role model and I will strive to do that in the future."

Warriors fullback Reece Walsh.
Warriors fullback Reece Walsh. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Smith, who was fined $15,000 by the NRL and handed a $50,000 suspended fine by the Storm, also apologised.

"I hate that I have added to the stereotype of players but thank the NRL for understanding that I am just a young man who made a poor mistake by putting myself in the position that I did," Smith said.

"I know I am a good person with a good heart but I know these are just words. I don’t want you to judge me on my words but my actions moving forward from this."

Melbourne CEO Justin Rodski said a breach of the conditions of Munster’s alcohol ban or any other incident could cost him $100,000 – and possibly his contract.

Asked if Munster was on his last chance with the Storm, Rodski said: "I think you could take from this that he is".

"There is a suspended fine put in place for Cameron and if Cameron breaches that, that would automatically trigger that fine to be imposed on him and he will face the club and the board," Rodski said.

"The club and the board will then determine whether or not that breach is significant enough to trigger only the fine or whether it is more serious than that and we take further action.

"Cameron has put his hand up and acknowledged that he has a significant issue and he wants to seek professional help to deal with that.

"From his perspective, it is about his welfare and it is about his mental health and it is about making him a better person.

"For him to put his hand up proactively to take part in four week of rehabilitation as well as abstain from alcohol for a 12 month period I think demonstrates just how serious he is about addressing this issue."

I want all kids out there to know that my behaviour was not okay

Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster

The Storm will also impose additional behavioural conditions as part of a disciplinary action agreement with Munster, Smith and Lewis, while the trio will consult with the club’s medical team and health professionals to individualise comprehensive welfare programs.

Rodski said the club was satisfied that no other players were involved in the incident, which occurred after the Storm were eliminated from the finals.

The players will apologise to Storm staff in person when they return to training and will record individual messages for club members and partners, as well as a video message apologising to the Melbourne Old Boys who have played for the club since 1998.

"The decisions of these three players have hurt a lot of people and the players have broken the trust of the club and the game," Rodski said.

"As a club, we are committed to holding our players accountable for their actions, but we will also provide them with the right support they need to correct their behaviour."

Walsh apologised for his actions less than 24 hours after being charged by police in Surfers Paradise.

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