It could not have happened at a worse time
for rugby league, but that is little comfort to the bloodied young lady, with a
broken nose, who is the latest victim of the game’s greatest shame – drunken
footballers making an absolute disgrace of themselves.

Cronulla Sharks player and Kiwi
international Tevita Latu stands accused of hitting 19-year-old Brooke Peniton
so hard that she fell to the ground cracking her head on the concrete outside a
Cronulla service station at 3am yesterday morning. Blood was
streaming from her face and she is left with a broken nose.

NRL Chief Executive David Gallop says he is
expecting a swift report from the Sharks. Not good enough David! Get your own
independent report – and then do the right thing by the game, and the young
lady.

If the young lady’s claims are confirmed –
and she has shown considerable courage in going public and being photographed –
then direct the Sharks to tear up his contract, and then the NRL Board must ban
him from the NRL competition, full stop.

There is no other way the NRL can help
restore the damage this story has done. Last year the NRL trumpeted its overdue
campaign to educate players on how to treat women. When players transgress in such
a shameful way only the toughest sanctions will suffice.

Turn the clock back about 16 months.
Newcastle Knights rookie, Dane Tilse, had his contract torn up, and was
deregistered by the NRL, for an incident involving a young university student
in Bathurst – an incident in which there did not appear to be physical damage
and did not result in criminal charges being laid.

That must be the benchmark, and if the
allegations against Latu are confirmed – and there are apparently 30 or so
witnesses – then he deserves an even tougher sanction. And if the claims are confirmed, his career
in the NRL must be over!

Peter Fray

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