National Rugby League officials have stepped in and overruled the Sydney Roosters, banning rookie no.9 Jake Friend a fortnight after his high-range drink driving bust.Initially copping a $10,000 fine from the Roosters, Friend was set to play this weekend – but the NRL have deemed the Roosters penalty inadequte and stepped in to block the 19 year old from playing.
The Friend banning, fresh on the heels of suspended NRL stars Brett Stewart and Brett Seymour.
Seymour was banned by the Cronulla club today and fined, a bystander who recorded Seymours drunk episode outside a Cronulla club today handing footage in to TV networks.
NRL boss David Gallop wanted to ensure consistency with the penalties dealt out after alcohol offences. Saying it should be a warning to all players to drink responsibly. The move by Gallop and his team again puts the governing body on the front foot as sponsors hesitate. The ban also a silent message to clubs, deal with every offence on the same merit – rather than letting players off easily.
“Those few players who risk the reputation of everyone else in the game need to understand that the stakes in this area have risen considerably,” Gallop said.
“It is always going to be hard for clubs and coaches to stand players down but that now has to be accepted as a realistic outcome in these situations.
“The game’s sponsors are certainly nearing the point where they have had enough and so too have the fans.
“Going forward we propose working with the clubs to develop a more consistent approach from them in terms of the actions that they take.”
The NRL refused to alter the suspension against Brett Seymour, feeling the Sharks had done the right thing in regards to that situation.
The Roosters have no option but to accept the result, however they still maintained that their penalty slapped on Friend best interests of the player and the sport.
Ben Jones will take Jake Friends place in the Roosters side this weekend, as they travel to the ACT to face the Radiers. Willie Mason is also expected to play, however he faces a personal fitness test before the match.