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The Manly club is well within its rights to complain about the treatment its star player Brett Stewart (and the club itself) received from the NRL after their controversial 2009 season launch.
Following the Todd Carney and Benji Marshall incidents of the past week or so, Des Hasler lashed out in frustration and made comment about the lack of consistency the NRL has shown when dealing with off field incidents.
It was a fair point to make when his star player was treated so poorly back in 2009. Des Hasler is extremely loyal to his players, as they are to him, and this was just another example of that.
It was a point that I believe any level headed NRL fan could agree with.
David Gallop took it upon himself to respond to the Hasler comments; he stated there was clear evidence of misconduct by Brett Stewart on the night of the 2009 launch, and that the misconduct was separate to the allegation of sexual assault which eventuated.
What we are expected to believe is that the sexual assault allegations (of which Stewart was found innocent) had no role to play in the decision making process of Gallop and his colleagues when they decided that four weeks on the sidelines was a suitable penalty for this misconduct.
What a load on nonsense!
Let me address this clear evidence Gallop mentioned. Yesterday afternoon on radio station 2SM, Manly chairman Scott Penn confirmed Stewart was asked to leave the main bar of the venue in which Manly held their 2009 season launch, Stewart then hopped in a taxi and was dropped off outside his residence.
That is what the Manly club uncovered in their investigations in to the night of the launch and that is what they passed on to the NRL. That was the clear evidence David Gallop was referring to in his comments.
Clear evidence? Really? There was no evidence of inappropriate behaviour, just a security guard judging Stewart to be intoxicated and requesting he leave the venue, in my mind that is far from clear evidence of misconduct, certainly not clear enough to suspend Stewart for the first four weeks of the 2009 season for what was essentially an innocent evening out on the drink.
It was a poor choice of words by Gallop and unless he would like to share this supposed clear evidence with Manly and the rest of us, it was misleading.
Manly have been derided for their insistence over some sort of reasonable conclusion to this issue, people are sick of hearing about it and with that I can agree, however for the club and the loyal Manly fans this issue isn't going to go away. For now the NRL will ride it out, with the season about to kick off this will be swamped in the excitement but when the next player is in strife it will resurface.
The most important point in all of this is that Brett Stewart is a good man, and a great rugby league player, and his name has been besmirched yet again by the NRL and David Gallop with their talk of