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NRL set to take full control of player punishments after horrid offseason

The NRL are edging closer to taking full control of player punishments, with the power to determine the first sanctions for misbehaving players set to be taken away from the clubs.

While teams currently have the first right to first address player behaviour in conjunction with the NRL's integrity unit, that appears set to change as part of a raft of changes ushered in this year.

It's understood the potential change was discussed with club chiefs at the ARL Commission's AGM on Thursday, with mixed reviews from some and support from others.

"That's an open item on our table at the moment," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"I don't think we've got consensus amongst the clubs but I do think we have a majority view that sanctioning should come from the centre and it should be removed from the club's hands.

"That's a discussion I'm keen to have in the first half of this year with some clubs and the leaders of our clubs.

"I have long maintained that clubs should own the culture of their clubs and the sanctioning of their players. What I'm starting to consider though is it may be better in the hands of a regulator like us."

It comes after Canberra star Jack Wighton was banned for six games by the Raiders last season after he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault, only for the NRL to add another four matches to his suspension.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: Jack Wighton of the Raiders surges forward during the round 15 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Canberra Raiders at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
Jack Wighton. Source: Getty

"We need to be mindful that clubs form part of a competition," Greenberg said.

"They compete with each other and they compete to win. We look through a lens which is the best thing for the game.

"Quite often they will look through the lens that is best for their club. We're going to be at odds sometimes, so we need to think about that carefully."

Any changes will likely form part of the fallout from a dramatic start to the year, after a shift in policy this week led to Jack de Belin and Dylan Walker being stood down after pleading not guilty to charges levelled against them.

The NRL stressed these were no-fault decisions, and there was no presumption of the player's guilt or innocence intended or considered.

Meanwhile, the NRL also said they have no plans of pouring extra resources into the integrity unit.

Dragons star Jack de Belin in action during an NRL match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Dragons star Jack de Belin in action during an NRL match against the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Getty


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