NRL should throw the book at boozing Broncos
The Broncos' pub boozers have been caught red-handed.
There is no grey area - the Broncos have again breached the NRL's strict COVID guidelines.
If the NRL's investigation has any veracity, the integrity unit cannot arrive at any other decision but to hit the Broncos with a breach notice on Wednesday for contravening the code's biosecurity protocols.
The Broncos should be fined $50,000 by the NRL for a second COVID offence in five days.
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The group of players that are currently subject to a police investigation, including David Fifita, Corey Oates, Kotoni Staggs and Jake Turpin, should be stood down for at least two matches.
This probe is a huge test of credibility for acting NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo because the ramifications involve decimating the roster of the code's richest club and raising the prospect of the Broncos struggling to field 17 fit players.
If the NRL goes soft, the governing body will not only be exposed as hypocrites, but the COVID policy they have worked so hard to implement, enforce and enshrine will be rendered impotent.
Last week, the NRL fined Wayne Bennett $20,000 for lunching with his partner. Dragons prop Paul Vaughan was placed in a 'COVID hold' for merely attending a cafe.
The conduct of the Broncos' Everton Park crew is equally indefensible _ and the manner of the COVID breach exponentially worse.
The NRL's COVID guidelines are so murky and ever-changing that Broncos and NRL officials were on Tuesday going back and forth, privately trying to establish whether a formal breach had occurred.
All that was missing was the silly jingle from the Benny Hill Show.
But this much is beyond dispute: on June 23, a letter sent by the NRL to all clubs made it clear that attending "pubs, RSLs, Leagues Clubs, Bowls Clubs and Surf Clubs" were banned.
On July 16, the NRL's COVID rules were beefed-up.
That day, the NRL did a deal with the Queensland government. The Premier would continue to allow NRL border travel under a special exemption - on the proviso Queensland's NRL players returned to the code's strictest protocols.
The NRL agreed. That meant players from the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans could not attend pubs, regardless of the 14-day self-isolation rule regarding travel to and from NSW.
Broncos players have tried to argue they were lunching at a restaurant inside the pub, but Queensland police have told the NRL the group are clearly seen drinking in a bar area.
For that reason, Abdo and ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys should throw the book at the Broncos.
For Broncos chairman Karl Morris, it is yet another reason why he should read Brisbane players the riot act and put a broom through the entire club.
Originally published as NRL should throw the book at boozing Broncos