David Williams of the Manly Sea Eagles has been banned for the rest of the season following an investigation by the NRL into betting on league matches.
The former Australia and NSW winger is among five players to receive bans for betting on NRL games following an investigation by the league’s integrity unit.
The others - Ethan Lowe (North Queensland)- who has played 10 first grade games for North Queensland since 2013 and lower graders Cody Nelson (Gold Coast) and Melbourne’s Hymel Hunt and Slade Griffin - all copped two games suspensions.
Williams was suspended after placing multiple bets on games, including several in which he was involved.
The other four players were banned for betting on one game in which their club was involved but in which they did not participate.
Following an audit of the betting records of 1500 players, staff and officials, the NRL terminated the employment of three casual game day staff and suspended a further nine for the rest of the season.
Integrity unit chief Jim Doyle announced the bans on Thursday and warned that penalties for betting on NRL games will be even tougher in the future as part of a zero tolerance package of reforms.
Doyle said the audit 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, 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.
"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, Doyle said.
Under strict new rules announced by Doyle:
- 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.
Fairfax Media with AAP