It’s obviously a pretty difficult time to be a Manly supporter – what with guys who punch fathers of attractive girls who dare to interfere in their advances and alleged sexual assaulters named to turn out for the team on Friday.

The NRL has just suspended Stewart for five rounds.

It makes me feel sick.

I don’t even want to trot out the “innocent until proven guilty” line in their defense. Or mention that the Gold Coast Titans played a player all year who was facing a charge for the same offence.

What’s worse than the media circus surrounding the upcoming court case is the fact that everyone feels compelled to weigh in on the debate. The NRL has forced a club not to play a player (for ruining their ad campaign bringing the game into disrepute, a former test rugby player and SMH columnist wants them to sack him, a group of prominent women associated with the club have come out saying the player is a gentleman, and a former League player from another club is now calling on Manly to drop the player for this weekend. Then all the politicians had to have their say on the issue.

Calling on a player to stand down while the charge is investigated is fair enough – or would be if the investigation took only a matter of weeks – but they often don’t. The Titans player mentioned previously played a whole season before being found not guilty. If he’d been forced to sit out that would have cost him a year’s wages in case where he was found innocent.


Amy says:

This is all essentially a marketing thing – once they realised that they needed to attract women to games to be profitable these issues became pushed out into the open instead of hidden away.

Yes, given in this country we have a ethos of innocent until proven guilty the person involved should be able to continue playing – however, no matter what this does look like ‘protecting their own’ to outsiders.

Perhaps it is time to be harsh and write into contracts that no player should consume alcohol excessively at any time while under contract to both keep their peak physical fitness (which is essential for the job they are paid to do) and also to protect against incidents that affect the image of the club (it wouldn’t be appropriate for someone at a conference for work to get completely drunk and not remember what they did – why should this be any different?).