Furious fans deserve consistency over player punishments, writes Phil Rothfield Phil Rothfield, The Daily Telegraph February 11, 2019 10:54am The shocking misbehaviour of players and salary cap rorting are not the only issues of integrity at the NRL. Fans are equally as outraged about the inconsistency of the penalties being handed down. Rugby league’s image has been trashed over the summer months and Todd Greenberg has understandably vowed to get tougher. This is fine because the game needs stronger deterrents for the one per cent of ratbags who are ruining the reputations of more than 500 really decent NRL players. But we need consistency. We need to be fair on all clubs, all fans, all sponsors and all players. You can’t let South Sydney Rabbitohs superstar Sam Burgess off after his lewd photo scandal but suspend Mitchell Pearce for eight weeks and fine him $125,000 for similar offences. And surely the NRL boss can’t write a court reference for another Rabbitohs superstar, Greg Inglis, when he could have killed someone on our roads by driving 20km over the speed limit with a blood alcohol reading of .085. It helped Inglis escape a conviction. Two months later, we are dealing with the Dylan Napa “Big Papi’ leaked videos. No reference from Greenberg for Napa. No opportunity to handle this one in house like the Rabbitohs did with the Burgess investigation. No free kick like the Broncos got with Matt Lodge last year for a drunken and violent home invasion. Or Scott Bolton at the Cowboys. He was found guilty of assaulting a woman in Bondi. Zero action from the NRL. No fine. Nothing. No, the NRL boss wants to make an example of Napa. Kick him out of the first four to six rounds of the competition for something that happened six years ago at another club when he was a rookie. Hold the phone a sec. How is banning Napa fair on the Canterbury Bulldogs? How can you backdate your anger to 2013? How is this fair on their members, who have paid for their season tickets in advance but now face the prospect of losing their marquee signing for something their club had nothing to do with. Why not fine the Roosters because it happened under their watch? How is it fair on their sponsors or Napa’s teammates at Canterbury? By all means punish Napa. Fine him $100,000 for stupidity and suspend $50,000 of it. But don’t penalise Canterbury fans. If we’re turning the clock back then Greenberg should be looking at himself in his old role at the Bulldogs when Ben Barba’s off-field issues were dealt with so poorly and inappropriately. That Barba was allowed to play three weeks after the alleged assault of his partner, Ainslie Currie. That he didn’t complete his rehab course at a northern beaches facility. Instead, he was rushed back because the club put two competition points on weekends ahead of his recovery. That’s my opinion, anyway. He should not have played again that year. All that aside, the best way to punish players is by introducing heavy fines instead of suspensions. Let’s give players life for violence against women. We all agree on that. But the Napa, Pearce and even Jack Wighton case in Canberra last year should have been dealt with by hitting them where it hurts most. Losing money is a bigger issue for players than missing games. Wighton was paid $250,000 while he was serving a 10-week suspension at the Raiders. He shouldn’t have received a cent. Now every fan at every club awaits Greenberg’s next move. Let’s hope he doesn’t overreact. No kneejerk reaction. All we want is consistency. That’s what integrity is all about.