'Misled the public': Deputy Premier's fury over Nathan Cleary 'lie'

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read
John Barilaro has slammed Nathan Cleary for 'misleading the public'. Image: Getty
John Barilaro has slammed Nathan Cleary for 'misleading the public'. Image: Getty

NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro is the latest to launch a scathing attack on Nathan Cleary, urging the NRL to suspend the Penrith star for the season.

Cleary was on Wednesday cleared by NSW police of breaking social distancing laws despite admitting to having friends at his house on Anzac Day.

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But videos have since emerged on social media of the NSW State of Origin star dancing with friends.

Cleary initially claimed his friends came over unplanned, but has since admitted he failed to inform the integrity unit about the videos because he wasn't asked.

The NRL is again investigating the entire incident, which initially resulted in a $10,000 fine (60 per cent suspended) and a one-game ban (also suspended).

“I regret doing the video,” Cleary told News Corp.

“If they fine me more I'll deal with that at the time. I'm just going to wait and see what happens when I speak to the integrity unit.”

Barilaro, who has been a major supporter of the league's ambitious plans to resume its competition in late May, believes the consequences should be heavier.

“There's been a lot of people that don't believe the NRL should return. And I've been a big advocate for its return,” Barilaro said on Sky News on Thursday.

“I've been working with the NRL and I've put my own name against it. We've put in place the protocols and measures that deliver the NRL a start again in May.

“The issue with Cleary is that he has lied and said it was only a small interaction. But in the end, the Tik Tok social media platform shows it was more to that.

“In my mind, when you get caught out and apologise, you deserve a break. But not when you mislead the public and the NRL.

“I think now, Cleary, should be the end of his season.”

Videos show Nathan Cleary dancing with the girls and breaking virus rules. Image: Tik Tok
Videos show Nathan Cleary dancing with the girls and breaking virus rules. Image: Tik Tok

Barilaro says NRL can still return in May

Cleary is one of four NRL players to have been lashed by the league for bringing the game into disrepute, including stars Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell.

The duo, along with Newcastle player Tyronne Roberts-Davis, were punished for a weekend getaway on the NSW mid-north coast.

But despite their indiscretions, Barilaro still backed the league to return.

“I give credit to (ARLC chairman) Peter V'landys and the NRL, to what they've put in place, to Wayne Pearce and his team, to get the game going,” Barilaro said.

“We don't want to let one individual wreck it for everybody.”

Barilaro’s comments come after Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the NRL stars who broke “life and death” social-distancing laws have jeopardised the league's return.

Berejiklian said that, under different circumstances, some might have turned a blind eye to the incidents.

“But not when it's life and death,” she said.

“We are in a pandemic. You might forego your own safety, but to compromise someone else's safety, that's inexcusable.

“All of us are making huge sacrifices to protect other people.

“And if that doesn't occur that will of course come into our decision-making to the extent (the season restart) is our decision.

“We cannot afford to take chances or endorse any risky behaviour in a situation where lives could be lost because of a flagrant breach of a rule.”