Origin scandal may invoke Bulldogs fine
Posted Sat May 22, 2004 1:24pm
Updated Sat May 22, 2004 9:02pm AEST
The National Rugby League (NRL) is investigating whether to invoke a $350,000 suspended fine on the Bulldogs club over the behaviour of two of its players on State of Origin duty.
Blues players Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley were both fined by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) for misbehaviour after a midweek team bonding session.
The Bulldogs received the suspended fine from the NRL for bringing the game into disrepute during a pre-season trip to Coffs Harbour.
NRL chief executive David Gallop said the league would weigh up several factors before deciding on the fine.
"It's a difficult situation to lay too much blame on the Bulldogs for, when these players were not under their supervision at the time and we need to see the full report from the New South Wales Rugby League and see how the Bulldogs deal with that situation," Mr Gallop said.
Mr Gallop said the NRL was "more than infuriated" by the scandal which has rocked the New South Wales State of Origin squad.
Anthony Minichiello became the second player to be dumped from the Blues squad in the wake of the bonding session which spiralled out of control in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Minichiello's Sydney Roosters club side is reportedly now considering his playing future.
Mr Gallop said the players involved had let down their colleagues, who attended a forum on the treatment of women earlier in the week.
"This issue could not have been higher on the agenda - respect for women," he said.
"We're going to continue to work on that, but we're more than infuriated with what has happened when we put so much time into that issue this week."
The scandal broke when Origin squad member Mark Gasnier was sacked for using Minichiello's mobile phone to send an obscene voice message to a young woman on Wednesday morning.
NSWRL bosses widened their probe into the incident on Friday, when a Sydney radio station broadcast the message in which a second voice was audible.
Minichiello was sacked from the Blues squad on Friday night for being seen with Gasnier when he made the call, and for contravening rules which forbid the use of mobile phones during training camps.
Minichiello had initially claimed that his phone had been stolen earlier in the night. He has denied that his voice could be heard on the message in question.
Mason ($6,000), Trent Waterhouse ($5,000), Craig Wing ($3,000), O'Meley ($3,000) and Craig Gower ($3,000) were all fined for leaving the team hotel for the late night binge.
Late on Friday, NSWRL board member John Chalk refused to confirm or deny reports that Gasnier, Mason and Waterhouse had visited a brothel early on Wednesday, leading to heftier fines for Mason and Waterhouse.
Asked if it was accepted the players were at a brothel, Mr Chalk said: "It was taken into consideration they were in an inappropriate place."
Mason was also found to have signed the name of Blues team-mate Craig Fitzgibbon during an autograph session with young fans on Thursday.
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