A new timely benchmark has been set by the
Brisbane Broncos when it comes to how NRL clubs respond to players behaving
badly. Yesterday’s “tearing up of the contracts”
of Broncos players Neville Costigan and Brett Seymour will send shockwaves
through the player ranks of all NRL clubs, and so it should.

Yet there has already been a truly pathetic
response from the Players’ Association CEO Matthew Rodwell, who
described the dumping of Costigan as a “dangerous precedent” and that of Seymour as being
questionable and too severe.

Before he spoke, Rodwell, who has done a
lot to restore the credibility of the Players’ Association, should have taken
the time to read or listen to the statements by the Broncos CEO, Bruno Cullen, and
Team Manager Andrew Gee.

Cullen made it clear at yesterday’s press
conference, and in subsequent radio and television interviews, that both
players had become serial offenders and were not sacked just on the basis of
the latest reported incidents. Costigan has been charged with drink driving,
and Seymour remains under investigation over an alleged assault on a woman at
one of Brisbane’s better known hotels, the Regatta.

Indeed, Cullen – and Gee – could not have
been more forthright or unapologetic. Both players had been warned over their
off-field behaviour and attitude a number of times in the last 18 months.

Today’s Australianreports that this week, barely seven days after the Regatta Hotel incident,
Seymour was ordered to leave the Normanby Hotel by staff – where he had been
drinking with Costigan just hours before Costigan was charged with drink

Instead of criticising the Broncos, Rodwell
should be following David Gallop’s lead and applauding their tough line. And
unless he does so his credibility will be damaged on an issue the game should
be united on.

But the AFL has been made to look
even more ordinary. The weak way AFL clubs have been allowed to respond to players behaving badly in
recent weeks stands in stark contrast to yesterday’s tough Broncos stance, and
that earlier in the season by the Cronulla Sharks when Tevita Latu had his
contract torn up after assaulting a young woman outside a Sydney service

After a very dark period, rugby league is
finally getting it very right.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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