RLPA slams NRL over punishment matrix

Players' association chief Ian Prendergast has criticised the leaking of the NRL's behaviour matrix.
Players' association chief Ian Prendergast has criticised the leaking of the NRL's behaviour matrix.

The players' union has taken aim at the NRL over its attempt to introduce a "punishment matrix", accusing the governing body of freezing it out of discussions.

Rugby League Players' Association CEO Ian Prendergast is angered after details of a proposed schedule of penalties for poor off-field behaviour were leaked to the media.

On Sunday, he contacted NRL CEO Todd Greenberg and ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie to express his frustrations.

The NRL has revealed to clubs a draft plan for a stringent penalty regime in an attempt to introduce consistency.

While the RLPA is not necessarily opposed to the idea of codifying punishments, it says there are several "red flags" in some of the leaked potential sanctions.

However it is most disappointed at not being invited to the table to discuss the proposition.

Prendergast was scheduled to meet NRL general manager of integrity Joseph Collins in the next few weeks and asked for any relevant documentation for review, only to be told there was none.

It compounded the RLPA's feeling it had been left out of discussions about dealing with player misbehaviour.

Earlier in the year it began a challenge of the "no fault" stand down policy under the collective bargaining agreement because it said it contradicted what was agreed to.

"I have been in contact with representatives from the NRL today to voice our concerns," Prendergast said.

"This again shows that players are not aligned with the NRL regarding what a proper process looks like.

"While we are absolutely open to reviewing integrity measures and exploring investigative and sanctioning guidelines, we are yet to receive any detailed proposal from the NRL.

"Situations such as these undermine the role of the association as the players' representatives and our commitment to working in partnership to jointly address challenges facing the game."

Prendergast said there were several potential problems with the "punishment matrix", saying he didn't support a one-size-fits-all approach to penalties and several factors including past behaviour, education and rehabilitation needed to be taken into account.

"While it's premature to comment on the proposal before receiving it, there are red flags based on what has been reported," he said.

"Player sanctions are only one piece of the puzzle.

"We must also address the root of the behaviour and make sure these incidents are used as opportunities for players to learn from their mistakes and grow as a person through targeted support and rehabilitation."

Australian Associated Press