RLPA stops short of calling for end to mad Monday after Bulldogs scandal
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RLPA stops short of calling for end to mad Monday after Bulldogs scandal

The Rugby League Players’ Association says Canterbury players are embarrassed and desperate to atone for their Mad Monday behaviour, but has stopped short of calling for the scrapping of the controversial season-ending ritual.

The fallout from the Harbour View Hotel function continues after the NRL fined the Bulldogs $250,000 and long-time sponsor Jaycar Electronics pulled the pin on its partnership. The club fined Adam Elliott, Asipeli Fine, Marcelo Montoya and Zac Woolford a combined $70,000 for their involvement, although part of that total is suspended pending further breaches.

Tough week: Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson says the players won't be defined by their Mad Monday behaviour.

Tough week: Bulldogs captain Josh Jackson says the players won't be defined by their Mad Monday behaviour.

Photo: NRL Photos

Speaking at the club’s presentation night, Canterbury skipper Josh Jackson said the players’ actions were out of character.

"Obviously we’re embarrassed by it," Jackson said. "We’re very remorseful for our actions. They don’t define who we are as people. A lot of people do a hell of a lot of work outside that doesn’t get recognised by media and other people.

"We certainly won’t let it define who we are, it doesn’t reflect who we are as people or what we [stand] for as a club."

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The RLPA has been liaising with the players since the incident and its chief executive, Ian Prendergast, said they were hurting and keen to make amends.

Coach Dean Pay and captain Josh Jackson arrive at Canterbury's presentation night.

Coach Dean Pay and captain Josh Jackson arrive at Canterbury's presentation night.

Photo: Wolter Peeters

"From the RLPA’s perspective, this behaviour is clearly unacceptable and falls well short of the expectations we have of our members," Prendergast said.

"We’ve seen first hand the impact it’s had on the players. There is no one more disappointed than the players involved. They acknowledge they have stepped out of line, they’re embarrassed.

"They have exercised a lot of contrition and the biggest impact on them is personally and their families.

"They now have to live with this in the cold, hard light of day.

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"It’s clear there was no intent, they thought they were in a safe environment and they are extremely embarrassed it has ended up in the public domain.

"They take responsibility for their actions."

Canterbury has indicated Mad Monday is "highly unlikely" to go ahead next year, with the incident raising questions about the rituals’ wider place in the game. Prendergast said the players deserved an outlet to reflect on the season, but said stricter controls needed to be in place.

"We need to be careful to have a knee-jerk reaction to this sort of thing based on a particular incident," he said.

"Overall, player behaviour has improved dramatically in recent years and there should be an opportunity to catch up with your teammates and download on a season once it has finished.

"There is obviously a risk attached to excessive alcohol use and we need to be smart about how we mitigate those risks and protect everyone involved.

"What we don’t want is for players to go into their shells and act like hermit crabs.

"We believe the players should live relatively normal lives despite the scrutiny they are under, provided they do it in the right way.

"The players deserve to let their hair down at the end of the season, like anyone else in society. Clearly they need to go about it in the right way, but on this occasion the club and the players would acknowledge that things got out of hand."

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Elliott is one of the highest-profile players involved after he was photographed dancing in the nude. The incident has overshadowed his work in the community, which resulted in him being a nominee for the Ken Stephen Medal.

The incident has also sparked debate about whether the media is too intrusive after following players during their end-of-season celebrations.

"Players understand they are under huge scrutiny these days," Prendergast said. "However, they are also conscious of how far it goes at times.

"We do need to respect the fact that these players are people first and they do deserve some right to privacy and to be protected in that regard. That goes to the heart of our role as their association.

"We will work with players to develop a stronger relationship with the media and fans.

"Everyone in the game needs to be conscious of where that line is, particularly given the nature of the media cycle these days, social media and how accessible players are compared to years gone by."