Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
The NRL has suspended one player for the rest of the season and four other players for two games for betting on rugby league matches.
In addition, three casual game day officials have been terminated and nine others suspended for the rest of the season for betting breaches.
And the NRL has warned that the penalties for betting on Rugby League will be even tougher in the future as part of a zero tolerance package of reforms.
Chief Operating Officer Jim Doyle said today an audit of betting records covering more than 1500 registered players, officials and staff found no evidence of serious abuse of the betting laws or match fixing.
But the NRL had imposed a range of suspensions, terminations and warnings to those who have breached the betting rules.
In addition to the terminations and suspensions listed above, first and final warnings have been issued to 12 registered NRL players, staff and officials who placed small, isolated bets on rugby league matches. They either had no connection to the matches or were unaware they were prohibited from betting on those particular matches.
None of the staff who received warnings were in senior roles or able to have any influence on the outcome of games.
In the majority of cases where warnings were issued, the bets were small - often as little as $5 - and were not on matches involving their own club.
Mr Doyle said the NRL regards betting as a serious issue and has immediately suspended five players who bet on matches involving their own club.
"There is no suggestion of match fixing or inappropriate conduct on the field by those involved, but the Integrity Unit is determined to protect the interests of all players, fans and members."
Mr Doyle said those suspended were:
• David Williams - suspended for the rest of the 2014 season after placing multiple bets on games - including several in which he was involved.
• Ethan Lowe - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved - but in which he did not participate.
• Cody Nelson - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved - but in which he did not participate.
• Hymel Hunt - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved - but in which he did not participate.
• Slade Griffin - suspended for two games for betting on one game in which his club was involved - but in which he did not participate.
Mr Doyle said the new zero tolerance policy would see:
• Every player from every club will be required to sign a document demonstrating that they fully understand and will comply with the NRL's betting rules.
• All staff and officials will be required to confirm that they fully understand and will comply with the betting rules.
• Audits of betting records will be conducted more regularly to detect if any breaches occur.
• Players, staff and officials will in future face termination or suspension for any breach - no matter how small the bet is.
Mr Doyle said anyone who breaches the betting rules in the future can expect to spend a long stint on the sideline or lose their job.
"We are going to step up our education of the rules and every player, official and employee is on notice that there will be no excuses for betting on games in future," he said.
"The NRL will continue to work with the betting agencies to ensure there is no threat to the integrity of our game."