NRL boss Andrew Abdo has apologised to Parramatta Eels forward Junior Paulo for a social media post sent out by the league which featured a gorilla emoji.
The post, which was published from the NRL's official Twitter and Instagram accounts during Friday night's match between the Eels and Brisbane, was edited soon after it was published following the Eels raising concerns.
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"This was a very bad error of judgement," Abdo told AAP.
"The emoji was clearly inappropriate and it should never have been posted.
"I have personally apologised to Junior and the club and we are reviewing our social media processes to ensure there are stronger checks and balances in place before an item is posted.
"We will also engage in further education programs with the team responsible for our social media accounts."
However, according to the Sydney Morning Herald's Michael Chammas, neither Paulo, nor several of the league's most prominent voices on racial issues had an issue with the post.
Paulo himself later commented on the edited NRL post using the same gorilla emoji that had previously been deleted, with the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Sia Soliola and Michael Jennings all 'liking' Paulo's post - though he later removed it, for reasons unknown.
Chammas said the gorilla emoji - as opposed to the other, commonly seen monkey face emoji - had been frequently used by players as a reference to going 'beast mode', however the parallels between the NRL incident and others such as the Adam Goodes controversy in 2013 are obvious.
The Eels on Tuesday also confirmed they were comfortable with the NRL's handling of the incident.
"As soon as the club was made aware of the post we contacted the NRL to ensure it was removed promptly," an Eels spokesman said.
"The club is comfortable with the NRL's response to the issue and we consider the matter to be resolved."
NRL apology follows Cronulla Sharks TV interview incident
The Paulo incident comes after the league warned Cronulla forward Toby Rudolf after he was accused of making degrading comments about women during a post-match interview over the weekend.
The Sharks star was being interviewed as part of Fox Sports' coverage after his side's round one win against rivals the Dragons on Sunday evening.
Rudolf garnered a few laughs when revealing that he would be celebrating the 32-18 win over Cronulla's fierce rivals by having "1000 beers".
However, his joke took a distasteful twist when he mentioned going out to popular Cronulla establishment Northies in the evening.
"Go to Northies, try and pull something - anything will do," Rudolf joked.
Laughter could be heard on the Fox Sports broadcast, but NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said on Tuesday morning that it was anything but a laughing matter.
The league boss told AAP he was "very disappointed" in Rudolf's comments and issued a formal warning.
"I was very disappointed with Toby's comments, they were inappropriate and should not have been said," Abdo told AAP.
"We are going to issue Toby with a formal warning and I know the club are going to counsel him so there is not a repeat.
"Respect for women is one of the foundations of our society and our players, as role models, need to be leaders in this area."
The interview was published across various media outlets and social media on Sunday night and Monday, prompting the NRL and Cronulla to act.
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