Is Mitchell Pearce's penalty appropriate?
Phil Gould and Andrew Webster question if Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce's penalty is sufficient and discuss how it will affect his Origin selection.PT7M41S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-389lu 620 349 May 14, 2014
Mitchell Pearce has slapped a booze ban on himself for the rest of the season to prevent more alcohol-fuelled incidents like the one which almost cost him his NSW jersey.
Pearce was given a one-match ban and a $20,000 fine after being issued with an infringement notice by police for failure to quit a licensed premises in Kings Cross in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce will be abstaining from alcohol for the rest of the season. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
The sanction allows Pearce, who was the Sydney Roosters' nominee for Wednesday's Women in League Favourite Son award, to be available for Origin selection for game one.
In a video posted on the club’s website, Pearce apologised unreservedly for his actions, and said he held out hope of ‘‘working through things" with girlfriend Phoebe Carpenter.
‘‘It’s been hard for everyone involved, and I’ve brought it all on myself, I take full responsibility,’’ Pearce said.
‘‘Firstly I want to say sorry for my parents, who are my biggest supporters. I let them down, embarrassed them and they’ve had to wear the brunt the last couple of days, which has been hard for them.
‘‘Also my girlfriend, who is obviously my biggest supporter and has copped this the hardest. It’s unfair on her, and hopefully we can work through things.’’
Pearce is not a frequent drinker and the incident at a nightclub was the first time he had consumed alcohol this season. However, he has made poor decisions in the past when alcohol was involved and has advised the club he won't be touching another drop until the end of the season.
It means if he is selected to wear the Blues No.7 jersey for the opening interstate encounter at Suncorp Stadium, Pearce will refrain from imbibing during bonding sessions while in base camp at Coffs Harbour.
"Voluntarily, before we had even thought we would discuss it with him, he decided to go off alcohol for the rest of the season," Roosters chief operating officer Brian Canavan said.
"That's not a hard thing for him to do because he and many other players did it last year as well.
"Unfortunately a bad night, a bad decision and he's copped a lot of criticism."
The Roosters have previously slapped alcohol bans on players and forbidden them from entering Kings Cross for fear of off-field dramas derailing their premiership campaigns. However, Canavan said it was not an option for the current squad.
"That's a long time ago," he said. "No, it's not something we are considering at this point in time. You just want players to grow with their maturity and help them make better decisions.
"Prohibition is not all that successful in any aspect of the community."
Blues power brokers were disappointed with the actions of Pearce and Roosters teammate Boyd Cordner, another NSW hopeful, for their actions over the weekend. However, they will both be considered for the team named next Tuesday to take on the Maroons.
"It's something that happened externally to us so there's no issue for us at all," NSW Rugby League boss David Trodden said.
"The Roosters and the NRL have dealt with it and it's the end of the story as far as we're concerned."
Pearce's penalty was the main talking point at the Women in League lunch at the Museum of Contemporary Art, where Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei was named the "favourite son". NRL chief Dave Smith was grilled about the consistency of sanctions. Some observers felt the penalty was harsh given the crime was not moving on from a licensed premises, while others believe he should have missed an Origin game and the $30,000 pay day that comes with it.
Asked if the sanction was lenient given NSW NYC Origin player Matt Lodge copped a two-game ban for scrawling a profanity on his strapping, Smith said: "I think we gave him a $20,000 fine, if I understand that correctly.
"I think every situation is going to be different and I'm not going to talk about specifics.
"What you've got is a strong process whereby we recognise on-field behaviour and off-field behaviour, there is standards. If you step outside of those standards, there will be consequences."
Another issue involving the NRL's integrity unit is an investigation to determine whether the governing body's head of football, Todd Greenberg, turned a blind eye to the late prop Ryan Tandy’s gambling on rugby league games while he was chief executive at the Canterbury Bulldogs. Greenberg has denied the allegation.
"In terms of the Tandy piece and what was reported on the 7.30 show, we take any allegations of betting or match fixing or anything like that very seriously," Smith said.
"We've made the inquiries from the middle of last week and we'll continue to satisfy ourselves that we've got all of the facts. We've not finished those inquiries, once we have I can make a decision."