Huge fines won’t deter NRL players from behaving badly: union boss

Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton has criticised the NRL’s move to increase fines for players involved in off-field indiscretions with the union boss saying there is “no evidence” which shows big penalties deter players from engaging in bad behaviour.

On Monday, the NRL handed down a $50,000 fine to Broncos star Payne Haas after pleading guilty to intimidating two police officers last month in Tweed Heads. The fine marked the highest financial penalty that can be given to a player.

Payne Haas was fined $50,000 by the NRL this week.Credit:NRL Photos

In 2019, 481 players were engaged in work or study. Just 2.5 per cent were referred to the NRL’s integrity unit for indiscretions.

Meanwhile, 28 per cent of the 78 players not engaged had been referred to the integrity unit at some point during the year.

“I’m yet to see any evidence at the moment that would support that just having mandated bigger fines creates behavioural change,” he said.

“The changes that we make, we can’t be just throwing a dart in the night and hoping it lands on triple 20 or the bullseye.”

In 2019, the NRL mandated that all young NRL players would be ineligible for first-grade selection if they did not partake in at least one day of work or study a week.

But due to COVID-19, the rule was not strictly enforced last year with the game fearing players would have been unable to find employment or study during the pandemic.

The RLPA boss said “industry experts” needed to be invited to discussions around the sanctions review to find the best way forward.

“We have our views and the NRL have theirs, but it’s critical that the right people are in the room for these discussions,” Newton said.

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