Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr have been slammed for using their race as an excuse for breaching social-distancing rules amid the coronavirus crisis.
The Kangaroos stars have been fined $1000 each by NSW Police and an investigation is underway into a potential firearms breach after a gathering at a property in Taree over the weekend.
Mitchell and Addo-Carr both apologised for the “slip up”, however their reasoning for the breach has not gone down well with the rugby league world.
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Both players said they were gathering on the property for ‘cultural’ reasons, while Mitchell later claimed the pair were only under fire because of their race.
Mitchell took to Instagram on Monday night to share a photo of him and his mates next to one of crowds gathering on Coogee beach.
“Can you spot the difference? I can,” he wrote. “One group of people is coloured! I stand with ya cuzz @iamlm01.”
NRL stars savaged over race card ‘cop-out’
However their excuses have gone down like a lead balloon.
“I wonder if the act or the excuse that was given is going to rile people up the most,” commentator Dan Ginnane said on Fox League on Monday night.
“You’ve got the act, just kids doing dumb things and they cop their whack. But then Josh texts Phil Rothfield, who broke the story, and this is what he text him: ‘They’re my family mate, their my cousins and two of my uncles. I don’t know what to say, I came up here for my pregnant missus, she’s about to have a baby then spend some time with my family.
“I don’t think anyone would have any issues with that. But then the Storm winger sent a text message 15 minutes later.
“‘Just touching on what we spoke about, mate it was a cultural gathering. Learning about our land and culture, learning how to live life off the land, thank you take care’.
“Now I think people heard that and thought ‘are we playing the race card?’ And that may be a harsh way of looking at it but then they see vision of young blokes riding bikes and thinking is that a cultural gathering, maybe it’s a cultural gathering we’re not aware of.”
Paul Kent of the Daily Telegraph was even more scathing.
“To try and come out and say a couple of blokes were struggling and wanted to get back to culture, that’s just an excuse,” Kent said.
“In the fair dinkum stakes, everybody is doing it a little bit tough to different degrees but we’re all doing it a bit tough. We’re all stuck at home, so we’re all going through a bit.
“Second to that, as far as the culture goes, I get going and having a camp. But riding motorbikes and shooting guns I don’t think is what aboriginal people regard as their culture. That’s just a cop-out.
“That’s just a sympathy vote to try and get some sympathy back to say to people look after me, the old mental welfare cultural card gets played, it’s rubbish.
“Try and act like a man and do the right thing and when you don’t do the right thing, then man up and say you know what, I stuffed up I apologise, it won’t happen again. Then go away and learn your lesson.”
And Ray Hadley expressed similar sentiments.
“Whether they were your uncles or cousins or not. Introducing your pregnant missus and wanting to spend time with her family — that’s not allowed either,” Hadley said on The Ray Hadley Morning Show.
“I don’t know how many cultural gatherings in indigenous communities across Australia over the last few hundred years have raced on trail bikes with no helmet, used a gun to shoot not game, not food but tin cans, I just think you might be barking up the wrong tree, Josh.
“When you do a dumb thing you should put your hand up and say ‘yeah I shouldn’t have done it’. You’re kidding, you’re absolutely kidding.”
Phil Gould calls for year-long suspensions
Phil Gould even called for the pair to be banned for the rest of the year.
“Honestly, they don't deserve to be playing this year. Simple as that,” he told Wide World of Sports Radio.
“I know that might seem harsh, but the message has to get through to everybody.
“What they've done is highly irresponsible. It's put themselves above their teammates, their club and the game itself and that might seem like a harsh penalty but these are very, very difficult times and it was just uncalled for.
“Particularly when we're on the eve of trying to get back and particularly that the game was trying to convince the government that we can follow strict protocols and act outside the rest of society.”
Premiership hero Cooper Cronk told Fox Sports he expects South Sydney and Melbourne to be docked competition points as part of the sanction.
“I think it's going to be harsh, I think it's going to be swift, and I don't think you can do it to the individual,” Cronk said.
“I think they're going to do maybe the points or something to take the club back a bit because one slip, one slip up that makes this game stop, it's going to cost the game a lot of money.”
If an NRL player posted a photo of themselves breaking social distancing rules at Coogee beach, that’d be a big story too. People blaming the media for the Josh Addo-Carr/Latrell situation is nonsensical.— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) April 27, 2020