April 27, 2010
THE NRL has no concerns that Melbourne players, stripped of any potential glory at club level, could play recklessly and without regard for suspension once the representative portion of the season is over.
The Storm's Test prop Brett White was yesterday charged by the match review committee over two separate offences in the space of six minutes during the second half of their 40-6 win over New Zealand Warriors on Sunday night.
White faces a one-match ban, ruling him out of the Storm's visit to North Queensland on Saturday if he pleads guilty to both charges, one of dangerous contact to head, the other for striking. The club will decide today whether to fight one of the charges, enabling him to play against the Cowboys and heighten his selection chances for Australia or Country Origin on May 7.
NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley dismissed suggestions players could compete without concern of being rubbed out once the winter representative matches concluded with State of Origin III on July 7. ''They certainly do have suspensions to worry about; the other thing is, if anyone is suspended for a long period of time, that can result in deductions under their contracts by the club,'' Annesley said.
''I don't think there was any real indication [on Sunday] that there was anything other than players playing as they normally would. The penalties under the judiciary can be pretty solid and if anyone steps over the line, that can affect anybody in future seasons, future contracts.''
Melbourne football manager Frank Ponissi said the last thing players would do was lash out without regard for accountability.
''They're angry, disappointed and frustrated at what happened over the last week but our players are still representing this club and still representing themselves,'' he said.
''They're not going to do anything to drag the values down. Any thoughts or discussion that blokes are going to go out and do anything like that, I can vehemently squash.''
He put White's charges down to his timing being ''a bit out'', with the front-rower making his first NRL appearance of the season after recovering from a shoulder operation.
Ponissi said representative selection was even more paramount in the minds of White and many Storm colleagues, given their premiership aspirations had been taken from them due to the salary cap breach.
''Representative honours have always been important to them but they've taken on an even more significant role this year,'' Ponissi said. ''If there is one positive, all the rep games are coming now. You're going to have some pretty desperate blokes playing over the next few weeks.''
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