Addin Fonua-Blake of the Sea Eagles could find himself in more trouble for his referee tirade. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

rugby league

NRL look at tougher vilification penalties

2020-07-08 17:21:21

The ARL Commission will consider harsher penalties and a new system for players who break the anti-vilification code after the Addin Fonua-Blake affair.

Fonua-Blake this week was handed a breach notice for his abuse of referee Grant Atkins, after he called him a f***ing retard at fulltime in Manly’s loss to Newcastle.

The Sea Eagles’ firebrand has not been given a deadline to respond and there is no proposed penalty as yet, but he will meet NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo on Thursday to discuss the incident.

Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans was adamant on Wednesday that Fonua-Blake should not face further punishment beyond the two-game ban for contrary conduct already handed down by the match review committee (MRC).

But regardless, it appears any future breaches of the anti-vilification code would be dealt with more harshly.

A report is being put together for the commission, with any changes expected to be discussed and made later this month at a commission meeting.

“That will go to the commission at its next meeting with changes to ensure there are penalties that will act as a significant deterrent,” ARLC chair Peter V’landys told AAP.

“I will be recommending to the commission that deterrents are put in place and that players are educated in that if they step out of place they will be dealt with severely.”

V’landys has been adamant players must accept they are role models and what influence such words can have in schools or junior football.

Options might include vilification or referee abuse cases immediately referred to the judiciary.

Another might result in anti-vilification breaches being taken out of the hands of both and immediately become a matter for the NRL’s integrity unit.

Fonua-Blake’s breach notice came after a second outburst was revealed, which he insisted came while alone in the dressing rooms and not aware referees could hear.

Cherry-Evans on Wednesday said while Fonua-Blake had clearly made a mistake, the punishment handed down by the MRC should be final.

“I would be very surprised if that happened (additional punishment),” Cherry-Evans said.

“We have made it really clear that (the second outburst) was not any direct emotion or passion or words that have been directed to the official.

“I think as a player when you’re in the tunnel, you’re off the field. If you’re venting your frustrations indirectly, I think that’s okay.

“Two games is a very big punishment based on the shortened season. Addin has owned his mistake and has been punished accordingly.”

The NRL has indicated its next decision will likely be as much about education as a direct punishment.

Fonua-Blake apologised to Manly teammates on Monday for the incident, after doing likewise to Atkins the previous night.

Teammates also apologised for the incident on Wednesday and offered their support as a group for any children living with a disability.

Meanwhile, stood-down Manly hooker Manase Fainu on Wednesday was committed to stand trial over an alleged stabbing last year.

He has denied the charges and will return to court in August.