Mon, May 08, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Chief defends NRL after scandals

AFP, SYDNEY

New Zealand’s Shaun Kenny-Dowall is tackled by Australia’s Valentine Holmes during the Four Nations rugby league match at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England, on Nov. 5 last year.

Photo: AP

Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) chief has defended the game following a series of drug scandals, saying it was “no different to the rest of society,” as one of the players involved apologized.

The sport in the past few days has been hit with cocaine-linked allegations involving a club chairman and three leading players in three separate incidents.

“Can we do more education? Can we do more testing? We can. We do a hell of a lot of it,” NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg told reporters late on Saturday.

However, he defended the code, saying: “I don’t think the game’s got any bigger problem than what society has on a weekly and daily basis in confronting these sorts of challenges.”

“We’ve hundreds of young men inside the rugby league network. We do a huge amount of education, we do a huge amount of testing, we’re still going to have issues, we know that,” Greenberg said. “That’s the realistic nature of the way we do our business. But we’re no different than the rest of society.”

Greenberg’s comments came as Gold Coast Titans player Kevin Proctor issued a statement saying he was “extremely embarrassed and sorry” for his actions.

Proctor and Melbourne Storm forward Jesse Bromwich were allegedly caught attempting to buy cocaine outside a Canberra nightclub after losing a Test match to Australia on Friday.

Proctor said the night was “a bit of a blur as I obviously had too much to drink before the incident.”

“Although I can’t remember exactly what happened, I don’t deny it,” the 28-year-old said. “I am devastated by the whole thing and can’t apologize enough to my Kiwi team mates, the NRL, the Titans, and all fans of the game.”

The Titans said Proctor was issued with a breach notice to appear before the club’s board, where any action or sanction against him would be determined.

The New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) said management and senior players would meet this week to consider possible sanctions.

“The players have breached their code of conduct,” NZRL chief executive Alex Hayton said in a telephone news conference, adding that he first heard about the incident through the media.

Banning the pair from the New Zealand World Cup squad “could be one of a number of sanctions” to be considered, as was removing Bromwich from the captaincy, he added.

The Rugby League World Cup is to be held from late October in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The NRL’s Integrity Unit was looking into all the allegations, with Greenberg vowing “big consequences” if the cases are proven true.

“There must be consequences for actions and poor decisions ultimately cost people livelihoods in the game,” he said.

Cronulla Sharks club chairman Damian Keogh stepped aside following his arrest late on Friday for alleged drug possession.

Sydney Roosters’ center Shaun Kenny-Dowall was charged over drug possession in Sydney on Thursday.

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