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Top 10 NRL Scandals

In light of the current scandal hitting the NRL, involving the Cronulla Sharks and the alleged use of performance enhancing drugs, we look at the TOP 10 NRL SCANDALS.

A scandal is a weird cultural beast. Sometimes a player is implicated in a certain event, which is then represented in the media as a scandal. This means that the ‘scandal’ is not simply about doing the wrong thing, but of the media attention about possibly doing the wrong thing:

10. Ben Barba alcohol and alleged gambling problems– Earlier this year, Ben Barba was set to be the face of the NRL at the season launch, after an incredible season last year. Days before the launch however, Barba was stood down indefinitely by the Canterbury Bulldogs club. It was revealed that he was allegedly struggling to deal with a relationship breakdown with his long term partner. Photos had been published by Barba on his twitter account advertising his nights out gambling and drinking.

9. Newcastle Nights storm a dormitory at Charles Sturt UniversityIn 2005, following a trial game, a group of Knights

players allegedly entered a dormitory room at Charles Sturt University, which resulted in a $100,000 dollar fine for the club, fines for the players and the sacking of a one member of the group, Dane Tilse. The Knights players were reprimanded for causing disturbance as well as unauthorised use of a bike, and a fire extinguisher.

8. Andrew Johns drug problems – In 2007, Andrew Johns, arguably the greatest player the game has known, was caught with ecstasy, and the story unravelled that he was a frequent user of drugs during his playing career, what he claimed he used to deal with the depression and pressure he suffered.

7. John Hopoate’s finger incident– The only member of our scandal list in which the scandal occurred on the field. Hopoate was suspended for 17 games that ended his career after a shoulder charge to the face of then Cronulla Sharks player Keith Galloway. In 2004, Hopoate was suspended for 12 weeks after being found guilty of inserting his fingers into the anus of opposition players, a tactic he claimed was to slow down the opposition.

6. Brett Stewart alleged sexual assault – Another face of the game who was taken away from his duties after becoming involved in a scandal in 2011, in which he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17 year old in a stairwell near his home. Stewart was acquitted of the charge due to a lack of evidence and conflicting evidence, however not until after the code had been rocked by the scandal, and Stewart had been suspended by the NRL.

5. Todd Carney and Anthony Watts party antics– Throughout his playing career, Carney has been followed by scandals. He was sacked from the Canberra Raiders for numerous offences, including drink driving, vandalism, and urinating on a man in the bathroom of a pub. He seemed to have turned things around in 2010 when he received the Dally M Player of the year, having moved to the Roosters, but found himself on the wrong side of the law again when he was caught drink driving just months later, and was implicated in the assault of a female at a party with fellow rooster Anthony Watts. Watts was found guilty of the assault, while Carney was released without charge.

4. Greg Bird glasses his girlfriend– In 2009, Cronulla Sharks player Greg Bird was sentenced to a maximum of 16 months jail when he was found guilty of glassing his then girlfriend, an incident that occurred in 2008. The sentence was overturned on appeal when it was later ruled that Milligan was agitated and tried to attack Bird and the glassing was an accident resulting from the scuffle. The incident cost Bird his contract at Cronulla, and gave the club and codes much unwanted attention after what has been a successful 2008 season.

3. Cronulla Sex scandalIn 2002, while on a trip in New Zealand, the Cronulla Sharks, led by then Hooker and media celebrity Matthew Johns was found to have had consensual sexual relations while his team mates looked on. The scandal was first covered by ABC’s Four Corners program.

2. Bulldogs rape allegations– In 2002, the Canterbury Bulldogs were alleged to have sexually assaulted a woman at a coastal resort following a preseason trial. The woman alleged the incident occurred in the pool area of the hotel where both she and the Bulldog’s squad were staying. The investigation continued over a long period of time until police eventually dropped the case due to a lack of evidence, although the scandal had already cost the Bulldogs a great deal of money from fines and loss of sponsorship.

1. Melbourne Storm Salary cap In years leading up to 2010, the Melbourne Storm were creating an NRL dynasty, having one two premierships and two minor premierships in the previous four years. As a result, the Storm were stripped of the ability to accumulate points in the 2010 season, had their name taken from the premierships and minor premierships they had gained during the time, and forced to pay back more than a million dollars of prize money. With the serious nature of the latest allegations against the Cronulla side, it may just be that this scandal climbs to the top of the list as the worst to hit the code in its history, especially if players are found guilty and suspended. If this doesn’t occur, it may mean the code has to deal with more bad publicity while the facts are made known.

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