NRL stars fined over virus breach
Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Tyronne Roberts-Davies have all been hit with $1000 fines for breaching coronavirus health guidelines after images emerged online of them camping.
Along with the fines for breaching the coronavirus lockdown, Melbourne Storm star Addo-Carr is reportedly being investigated over a possible firearms breach while Mitchell is looking at further fines for using an unregistered trail bike on South West Rocks beach, according to Channel 7.
Videos and photos of the trio were shared across social media over the weekend which showed them in a group of 12 in a breach of social distancing guidelines implemented to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
"Following extensive inquiries, today three men, two aged 22 and one aged 24, have been issued with $1000 PINs for failing to comply with a ministerial direction," a police spokeswoman said.
"The 24-year-old had previously received a warning for breaching the Public Health Act. Inquiries are continuing to identify the other persons and continue investigations.
"Investigations are also continuing into other potential offences, including potential breaches of the Firearms Act (1996) at the Taree property."
The trouble may not stop there for the players though, with the NRL's integrity unit still going through its own processes.
Confirmation from NSW Police they are investigating alleged firearms offences at the property where Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell and Tyronne Roberts-Davis had their illegal weekend catch up. #NRL— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) April 27, 2020
Mitchell was criticised for sharing posts on his Instagram story which turned the story in a racial issue. A post shared by Mitchell from another user showed two images, one of a packed Coogee Beach and another of the weekend camping trip.
The caption underneath the photos read "Can you spot the difference? I can, one group of people is coloured! I stand with ya cuzz @iam_lm01."
Both Mitchell and Addo-Carr deleted all images and videos relating to the weekend from the social media accounts.
Sadly people are turning this #NRL saga into a racial issue. This reply from the instagram account of Latrell Mitcell is just escalating this issue. Why @SSFCRABBITOHS Haven't told Mitchell to get off social immediately is beyond me pic.twitter.com/kMnWkWMHLa— Bernie Coen (@berniecoen) April 27, 2020
Addo-Carr has denied any wrongdoing while the NRL has voiced its disappointment after NSW police announced it would investigate him and fellow footy star Latrell Mitchell as photographs emerged appearing to show them breaking social distancing regulations.
Melbourne winger Addo-Carr posted photos and videos of himself to Instagram on the weekend hanging out with other people and riding motorbikes.
Last week he posted a picture of himself on a motorbike with the caption "new toy". On Sunday, a video clip in his Instagram story showed him among a group of people on bikes, while a second clip showed at least three people riding bikes on a beach.
Addo-Carr was one of five Instagram users tagged in the second video.
The Daily Telegraph reports Rabbitohs star Mitchell spent the weekend with Addo-Carr on a camping getaway. The publication reports a photo was posted on social media showing both NRL players among a group of a dozen men around a campfire at Mitchell's property near Taree on the NSW mid-north coast.
Addo-Carr told The Daily Telegraph he was with his pregnant partner in the region and visited his cousins and uncles.
"It was a cultural gathering," he said. "Learning about our land and our culture, learning how to hunt, live off the land."
Both Addo-Carr and Mitchell apologised for their actions.
"Firstly, I'd like to apologise for my actions this weekend. Nothing was intentional or deliberate," Addo-Carr said in a video posted on Instagram.
"A couple of family members of mine were going through a really tough time at the moment and I got in contact with Latrell to go out to his private property and try to connect to our culture again and try and put a smile on their faces and have a bit of fun as well."
Mitchell said: "I just want to apologise for my actions this weekend ... it was a little bit of a slip-up.
"I couldn't turn down a brother in a time of need."
Newcastle is reportedly investigating after Knights player Tyronne Roverts-Davis appeared in photos with Addo-Carr.
NRL FUMES: 'DISAPPOINTING AND UNACCEPTABLE'
In a statement released this morning, the NRL condemned the images that have been circulating in the media.
"On face value, the image in today's media is both disappointing and an unacceptable breach of health orders," the statement read.
"The NRL will be speaking to the players involved to seek further information and we will ensure the players provide any assistance authorities require.
"As a group, our players have taken government health orders very seriously and have helped educate the community. On face value, today's matter is unacceptable and we support the government in any action they believe necessary."
The Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) said it "takes these matters seriously and will continue to work with players, clubs and the NRL regarding this situation", while Melbourne Storm said the club "supports the statements issued today by the NRL and RLPA following social media posts made by one of our players" and "any potential penalty regarding the weekend matter resides with the relevant authorities".
The Rabbitohs also released a statement, saying: "Our club and players have taken the government health orders very seriously, and on a number of occasions have helped educate and support the community through this period.
"We will ensure Latrell provides any assistance authorities require and accept any action the government believes necessary."
The wording of the Bunnies' statement didn't wash with everyone.
And there’s not even ‘disappointment’ here...— Chris Mitchell (@chrismbbcsport) April 27, 2020
Incredibly just a paragragh on all the hard work they’ve been doing.
Maybe this washes with fans but they need to appeal to a wider public and in that sense this is tone deaf.#NRL https://t.co/ppp2tjfJY7
NSW POLICE TO INVESTIGATE
NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Warboys announced today both players would be investigated for any possible wrongdoing.
In NSW, you cannot be outside for non-essential reasons and gatherings are restricted to no more than two people.
"I've seen the same reports in the media, of course police haven't been backwards at all in taking complaints, commencing investigations and taking the appropriate action," Deputy Commissioner Warboys said.
"The matter will be investigated, what action is taken will obviously fall out of that investigation."
The players are facing possible $11,000 fines and suspensions from the NRL.
Rugby league reporter for The Daily Telegraph Phil Rothfield said it was disappointing to see footy players behaving selfishly while others in the community made sacrifices to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
"We've still got selfish people like footballers camping while everyone else is in lockdown," Rothfield said on the Big Sports Breakfast.
"It's disappointing more than anything else that everyone else is facing sacrifices.
"There are so many jobs on the line - the whole competition depends on these players dodging coronavirus and staying fit and healthy."
NSW State of Origin legend Laurie Daley told the Big Sports Breakfast: "It's one thing to be able to put these things (rules) in place but people need to follow them."
Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys will reportedly ask for more details about the images today, while Storm CEO Dave Donaghy told The Telegraph: "I've not spoken to Josh for a while. I can't provide any context to it."
CLUBS MUST FOLLOW STRICT GUIDELINES
Yesterday the NRL sent a 48-page document to all clubs outlining the strict measures they need to follow as the league prepares to restart its season on May 28, after it was suspended before Round 3 because of the global pandemic.
Clubs will be required to register a maximum of 50 players and staff to gain access to training and games - all of whom will need to have their living environments approved.
An identified risk is believed to require the player or staff member to find alternative accommodation.
Other guidelines include temperature checks, daily cleaning of equipment, single access to venues and isolation for players in their homes except for travelling to training, playing, doctor's visits or essential food shopping. Also proposed are restrictions on training in public spaces outside of the club environment, and a ban on using public transport, taxis and car sharing.
The NRL has already warned any breach of the health and safety measures will carry strict penalties, which is understood to include loss of competition points and fines.
The NRL is also looking at appointing an independent "spy" to make sure teams are abiding by protocols.
While details are yet to be finalised, the NRL believes the new protocols will be more stringent than government restrictions.
Clubs will now have five business days to organise equipment and staff to meet the strict guidelines.
The Rugby League Players Association and club bosses will meet on Monday afternoon to give their feedback to the guidelines before they are approved.
Meanwhile, the NRL will work with the RLPA to determine whether the Australian Government's coronavirus contact app will form part of the game's biosecurity framework sent to clubs.
The controversial app was launched on Sunday for Australians to download and trace whether they had come in contact with a confirmed coronavirus case. And while there are concerns over privacy and data storage, the NRL threw its support behind the technology and vowed to support and promote it.
"This app is a simple, genius idea that can help protect public health and eradicate the virus," V'landys said. "We absolutely believe in the importance of the community health message and are proud to work with the government to promote it far and wide.
"Right from the start of this pandemic we acknowledged the important role our sport, and the role models in our game, can play in helping authorities get important messages to the public so we can beat this virus."
The app relies on bluetooth technology and will track contact with other users who are within 1.5 metres for more than 15 minutes.
- with AAP