300 NRL Players In One City This Weekend What Could Go Wrong
The NRL has refused to put a ban on players hitting Brisbane's party districts during Magic Round despite the powder keg potential for player misbehaviour to rear its ugly head again.
ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie said they would not slap restrictions or a curfew on the 300 players who have begun arriving for the carnival of rugby league, in which all eight games will be played at Suncorp Stadium starting on Thursday.
A string of off-field incidents were a thorn in the side of the independent commission and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg over the summer and prompted them to rush in the "no fault" stand down rule which allows them to sideline any player accused of a serious crime.
Asked if players would be warned off venturing into Brisbane's late night precincts such as the Fortitude Valley, Beattie said: "That's up to the individual clubs."
"I am absolutely confident there will be no issues about player behaviour. The off-season, which we've all talked too much about, is now behind us."
"The reality is everyone understands the standards we set. I think we'll have 300 ambassadors for the game in Brisbane on their best behaviour."
Beattie said the NRL did not feel the need to issue clubs with warnings about behaviour, saying: "You'd have to live under a rock not to get the message. Everyone understands it."
North Queensland prop Scott Bolton was supposed to address the senior players and captains of the other 15 clubs as a warning after he pleaded guilty to common assault for allegedly grabbing a woman on the upper thigh in a Sydney bar last year.
In return, Bolton's NRL suspension was cut in half to five games.
However the NRL decided it would be better served if he addressed the game's younger players later in the year as a deterrent to them as they set out on their careers.
Beattie said after the game went scandal-free for the last couple of months, the message was starting to filter through to the players.
"We've seen it already, we've had a really good start to the season," Beattie said.
"I think everyone understands the game is better funded, better resourced, better supported by the community if everyone behaves."
"I have no concerns about player behaviour at all."