Fines for repeat off-field offenders set to double to at least $100,000

“Part of the future is a close working relationship with the RLPA. Clint Newton is the right CEO to partner with the ARLC/NRL to grow the game.”


The focus at Rugby League Central will turn to harsher deterrents to curb off-field incidents after a string of negative headlines during the off season. To that end, the current maximum fine of $50,000 is expected to increase by at least double, with the issue set to be an agenda topic at next week’s scheduled ARLC meeting.

“We want to send a message that it’s a privilege to play in the NRL,” V’landys said. “When you play in the NRL you are a role model and need to act accordingly.

“I want to stress that 99 per cent of footballers do the right thing. I don’t want every player tarnished. We’re not doing this for the 99 per cent, we’re doing this for the one per cent that let the 99 per cent down.

“The players I’ve been involved with are great people, they do things like going to kids cancer wards and never look for any publicity.

“That’s all tarnished by that one percent.”


The NRL handed NSW and Broncos prop Payne Haas a $50,000 fine, as well as a three-game suspension, for verbally abusing police last month. However, players face the prospect of paying an even bigger price in the future if they run into trouble off the field.

During the NRL-RLPA dispute, the arbitrator ruled that the governing body can change any of its rules as it sees fit, so long as the conditions brokered under the collective bargaining agreement remained intact.

“I don’t care what anyone says, no one likes losing money. No one likes being fined,” V’landys said. “We don’t have to go to the maximum, but we need to have something there that will be a pretty big deterrent.”

The NRL is close to announcing a sanction for Corey Norman after the Dragons playmaker was involved in a fight in a Cronulla laneway last month. A punishment will be handed down before a new maximum fine is introduced.

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NSW Waratahs coach Rob Penney defends team’s culture after former prop’s claims of ‘off-field issues’

Penney rated aspects of the victory A+, while others a C-, with inconsistency to be expected at this time of year.

But reports of an unsettled playing group, rumours of a rift between he and outgoing general manager of rugby Tim Rapp, and speculation he came within a whisker of getting the sack last year do not sit well with Penney.

In particular, comments made by Robertson, who left the Waratahs for an opportunity at the Western Force.

“I wasn’t that happy at the Waratahs to be honest,” Robertson said. “There’s a lot of off-field issues at the Waratahs.”

In an interview with ESPN, another recently departed Waratah, Jed Holloway, said Robertson was “speaking the truth”.

Penney respectfully disagrees.

“People see life through their own lens and everyone has a perspective,” Penney said. “Sometimes a molehill can become a mountain.

“We would have a different view on a few of those things. I can categorically say that as much as we love Tom, it hasn’t affected the rest of the group here. It’s a really good vibe, but I encourage you to talk to the boys about it. Don’t sit back and worry about asking the question because I’m really confident you’re going to get a positive response.

NSW’s Jack Maddocks takes the ball into the Queensland defence during their trial match in Narrabri on Friday night.

NSW’s Jack Maddocks takes the ball into the Queensland defence during their trial match in Narrabri on Friday night.Credit:Getty

“I think the morale is really good. I think a lot of good work has been done by a lot of good people. With the management team now having a campaign under our belt and the players all spending good quality time in our pre-season and the back end of last year, I think it’s a positive start.”

The Waratahs play last year’s finalists, the Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies, in their first two matches of the 2021 season, set to kick off on February 19. Even with the tough opening, Penney can’t comprehend why the Waratahs are being written off before a ball has been kicked.

“It’s [improvement] on the way, if I can hang in here another year,” Penney said. “Rotations of personnel take time. We’ve got a bloody good group this year and I’m unbelievably privileged to be part of the coaching group and I reckon we’re really close. This group can do great things.


“When I arrived last year in December, the questions were: What are you going to do? You’ve lost all the Wallabies, how are you going to go? My answer was always it’s a project. I don’t know why it was such a surprise why we struggled early in the campaign, because you guys [the media] knew what I was inheriting. Hopefully you can see the glimpses of what the future looks like.

“I tend to have the glass-half-full [approach], but I believe this group can kick on, which is so exciting for Australian rugby and the Waratahs. There will be bumps in the road and the other sides are good as well.

“We’re certainly not claiming that [underdog] position. If other people put us there, it’s irrelevant to us. We’ve got a good group, they’re a year on and there are no excuses.”

Highlights from Narrabri included the Waratahs’ ability to shift the ball quickly, the distribution of No.10 Will Harrison, an overall improved kicking game and a solid scrum.

The team will have a weekend off before travelling to Brisbane for round one against the Reds.

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Mitchell Pearce steps down as Newcastle Knights captain after latest off-field drama

“Mitchell Pearce will step down as captain of the Newcastle Knights, effective immediately,” a statement read.

“Earlier this week, Pearce met with head coach Adam O’Brien, CEO Philip Gardner and general manager of football Danny Buderus, to address recent events and to apologise for the distraction and inconvenience they have caused during the Christmas leave period.

“Immediately following this meeting, Pearce met with his teammates and football department staff, to advise the group of his decision to relinquish the captaincy.”


The statement followed Buderus’ comments which suggested Pearce may not have continued as captain anyway, given the club is under pressure to deliver a finals win in 2021.

A decision on who will lead the Knights this season is yet to be made public.

“Pearce’s decision followed a lengthy review of current issues, last season’s performance and reflection upon the added pressure the captaincy brings to both his on-field performance and personal life. The club is fully supportive of his decision,” the statement said.

“The Knights will continue work to develop a new club leadership model, with a decision on new club leaders – including who will ultimately perform the role of captain – yet to be made.”

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Adelaide Crows stand down Tyson Stengle over ‘off-field matter’

“While the club acknowledges there will be significant media and public interest, it is not in a position to make further comment at this stage. More information will be provided as soon as possible.”

The AFL integrity unit has been notified and is investigating the incident.

Stengle is contracted until the end of 2022 but this is the third off-field incident he has been involved in in the space of nine months.

Earlier this year, Stengle and former teammate Brad Crouch – who is now with St Kilda – were handed suspensions for four and two games, respectively, after they were found in possession of cocaine.

The AFL said at the time that the players had been found guilty of conduct unbecoming, following a stop and search by South Australian police on September 28.

“Both players will be required to attend a drug and alcohol education course prior to the commencement of the 2021 season and both players’ conduct constitutes a notifiable adverse finding under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy,” an AFL statement read.

Stengle received a heavier sanction because of a previous incident in April where he was caught drink-driving, according to the statement. He was also fined $2500.

“Whilst the present matter is of a different nature, the AFL took account of a relatively recent incident of serious misconduct on his behalf in considering the applicable sanction in this matter,” the statement read.

The players released a joint statement through their management at the time of the incident.

“We unconditionally accept responsibility,” said Stengle and Crouch. “We accept that our error of judgment is not in line with community expectations, nor the high standards we set for ourselves. In this regard, we are committed to the counselling process that SA Police has implemented to manage this and will continue to co-operate with our club as required. We will be making no further comments until any club process is concluded.”

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Tyson Stengle stood down, off-field matter, Adelaide Crows

AFL star Tyson Stengle has been stood down, effective immediately, after Adelaide was made aware of an “off-field matter”, the club has confirmed.

The Crows released a statement announcing they are “working closely with the AFL and AFL Players Association, as well as Stengle’s management in relation to this matter”.

“While the Club acknowledges there will be significant media and public interest, it is not in a position to make further comment at this stage,” the statement said.

“More information will be provided as soon as possible.”

Stengle copped a four-match ban after being caught drink driving in April, and pleaded guilty to all charges in October, resulting in a $1671 fine and his licence being suspended for six months.

The 22-year-old forward was also slapped with another four-match suspension after he and former Crows star Brad Crouch were stopped by police in September and found to be in possession of an illicit substance.

Stengle was picked up by Richmond with the sixth pick in the 2017 AFL rookie draft where he played two games across two seasons with the Tigers.

He was then traded to Adelaide during the 2018 Trade Period where he has since gone on to play in 14 games for the Crows across his two seasons at the club.

After only featuring in two games in 2019, Stengle played in 12 games for the Crows in 2020 and kicked eight goals while averaging a touch under 10 disposals per game.

In August he put pen to paper on a brand new contract, keeping him at the Crows until the end of the 2022 season.

More to come …

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Lionel Messi’s open-play goal drought suggests Barcelona’s off-field problems are manifesting on the pitch — RT Sport News

Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid marked the sixth successive game in which Lionel Messi has failed to score from open play, suggesting the tense accord between the player and club is far from steady.

Messi plunged Barcelona into chaos in August when he announced his intention to leave the club on a free transfer prior to the start of the current La Liga season.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner cited language in his contract which he said guaranteed him the right to leave the club at a time of his choosing.

However, both Barcelona and La Liga disputed this and Messi opted to stay as a potential showdown in court loomed. 

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Despite initially promising signs, the evidence on the pitch suggests that there remains an imbalance at the Camp Nou. The home defeat leaves the club languishing in 12th place in the Spanish top division, already six points behind league leaders Real Madrid, as the pressure starts to ramp up on new boss Ronald Koeman. 

Barcelona have dropped points in three of their first five league games. In addition to the stinging defeat to Real, they could only a muster a 1-1 draw with Europa League specialists Sevilla and also suffered a shock 1-0 reverse to Getafe. 

Questions will now be asked of Messi, whose two goals this season have both come from the penalty spot.

While his performance in Saturday’s Clasico showed promise, he was once again heavily marshaled by the Real Madrid backline – with Sergio Ramos expertly quashing one of Messi’s trademark slaloming runs in the final minute of the game.

So far this season, Koeman has been criticized by some – including his French forward Antoine Griezman – for not selecting his players in their most effective positions, something which suggests that the Dutchman hasn’t quite decided how to best deploy his best weapons.

Indeed, with so much of Barcelona’s dominance over the last decade or more reliant on Messi’s consistency of excellence, there will no doubt be concern in the club’s corridor of powers as to what to do should their talisman’s goals dry up.

Messi was the club’s top scorer last season with 31 goals in all competitions – but this was his lowest seasonal tally since the 2007-08 season. Add to that the sale of Messi’s strike partner, Luis Suarez, to Atletico Madrid and Barcelona’s forward options look increasingly anaemic. 

However, it must also be noted that Messi’s decline – if we can call it that – is a natural thing for a player in his 34th year, and even Messi has admitted that he will be forced to adapt his game as his age advances.

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Lionel Messi sets new Champions League record with goal against Ferencvaros

I think less and less about scoring goals. I’m starting to step back more and more to be the creator rather than the one who finishes,” Messi said earlier this year.

Obviously I like scoring, and if I have a chance I’ll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I’m less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I’ve never been obsessed with goals. 

I understand that people will talk about it when I stop scoring, so many, but that’s part of the game, part of growing as a player and adapting to the times, to be the best player both for yourself and for the team.”

Lionel Messi may not have left Barcelona, but did his goals?

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Tigers stay tight amidst off-field dramas

Star Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt believes the club has grown stronger and closer after overcoming a series of controversies this year.

The Tigers have the chance to cement themselves as one of the great modern-day teams when they take on Geelong in Saturday’s grand final at the Gabba.

Richmond won the flag in 2017 and 2019, but their run to this year’s grand final has been far from smooth due to a long list of controversies.

The most notable off-field distraction came when Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were slapped with 10-match bans for breaking COVID-19 protocols and getting involved in a fight outside a strip club.

The Tigers also hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when vision emerged of inappropriate touching between players during team songs.

Tom Lynch’s perceived cheap shots on the field have also been a big talking point, with Richmond accused of being arrogant in the manner in which they’ve conducted themselves this year.

Riewoldt says he’s proud of the way the players have banded together in the hub and overcome the numerous controversies.

“Obviously we had a couple of hiccups over the year, some a little bit more sinister than others. Some of them have been trivial, I feel,” Riewoldt told AFL 360.

“But we’ve dealt with those little speed humps as we’ve gone, and we’ve grown. I feel like we’ve come out of those events as a better club.

“We’ve probably lived a little bit of a different journey than a lot of other clubs, a lot of that has been the fault of our own.

“But we’ve grown as a group, we’ve grown as a club, and we’ve really stuck together, which I think has probably been the one thing that has kept us going.”

Geelong forward Tom Hawkins was told to stay away from teammates on Tuesday after becoming ill, and Riewoldt has more reason than most to hope it’s nothing serious.

“I got a bit worried because I got up and heard the Tomahawk was in quarantine, and I was standing in the pool with him a mere 24 hours beforehand having a chat with him and watching our girls swim,” Riewoldt said.

The nature of hub life means Geelong and Richmond players will be bumping into each other daily in the lead-up to the grand final.

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AFL 2020: James Hird West Coast Eagles 2004, Richmond off-field drama, Tigers, Matthew Lloyd, AFL hub breach

Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd has recalled a torrid off-field week for teammate James Hird in 2004, which culminated in a match-winning performance, to explain why Richmond may not be adversely affected by the litany of missteps they’ve made in between games in 2020.

The Tigers once again showcased their ability to compartmentalise distractions when playing the game, defeating fellow premiership contenders Geelong on Friday night, a week after Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones’s breach of league protocols that saw them suspended and sent home.

Speaking on 3AW, Lloyd said the best players and teams are often galvanised in times of off-field drama, citing Hird’s performance after a week where he was fined $20,000 for a verbal attack on umpire Scott McLaren.

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Round 17

Tigers roar ahead of finals


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Richmond slammed after latest off-field incident

Kane Cornes has lashed Richmond after their latest off-field incident, saying “success has gone to their heads” after an era which has seen them win two of the last three premierships.

While the Tigers remain well on track for a tilt at the 2020 premiership, their season has been marred by several off-field incidents.

The latest one came in the early hours of Friday when Sydney Stack and the yet-to-debut Callum Coleman-Jones were caught up in a brawl outside a Gold Coast strip club.

The pair were later thrown out of the hub in Queensland, banned for 10 matches and the club fined $100,000 for their second AFL COVID protocol breach.

Cornes now believes there is a “chink in the armour” of the previously unflappable club due to the various incidents which the club has been embroiled in this season.

“It’s been bizarre,” Cornes said on SEN’s Crunch Time.

“I admire the teams that win yet remain humble, those are the champion teams in my eyes. It takes nothing away from what Richmond has done on the field, but I don’t think they’ve been a humble side this year.

“From the tweets have been sent out to communication and the antics in the song, I think they have got ahead of themselves and success has gone to their heads a little bit.

“It’s not synonymous with other teams who you’ve seen who have had really successful dynasties like Geelong and Hawthorn from a similar era.

“Whatever happens on the field, I think there’s a little chink in the armour in terms of what has gone on this year and their lack of humility.”

The Tigers will be turning their attention to next Friday night’s blockbuster clash against Geelong at Metricon Stadium, in what looms as their most important match this season.

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