NRL integrity unit asked about consistency

Scott Bailey
ARLC chairman Peter Beattie says a report on NRL integrity unit consistency has been requested

The NRL's integrity unit has been asked to answer questions on its own consistency in a report requested by the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC).

Less than five weeks out from the March 14 season opener between Melbourne and Brisbane, player behaviour remains the biggest issue in the game after a tumultuous summer of off-field dramas.

The subject was a key component of a commission meeting last Wednesday, when the ARLC asked the NRL to work with clubs, players and their union to reduce integrity matters.

Consistency of punishments is still a big talking point. While chairman Peter Beattie defended the integrity unit on the weekend on social media, he confirmed a report into the matter had also been requested.

"The issue of consistency is often seen through the prism of club interest & not what is in the best interests of the game," Beattie tweeted.

"Nevertheless, it is an important issue & that is why the ARLC has asked the Integrity Unit to report on the issue of consistency in the first half of this year.

"Behaviour is incredibly hard to regulate. Those involved with policing are rarely popular. Without proper policing and standards we will not have a game."

A NRL spokesman on Monday confirmed to AAP the report had been requested by the ARLC.

The issue of consistency in player punishments is set to dominate discussion in the early stages of the season.

Ben Barba's deregistration and Greg Inglis' sacking as Kangaroos captain are among punishments handed out this summer to players, but several other issues are still before the courts.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has vowed to come down hard on any players found guilty of serious offences, a stance firmly backed by the ARLC.

Dylan Napa's leaked lewd videos also remain the subject of an integrity unit investigation, and will be sure to kick off debate when findings are complete.

Consistency debate has been fuelled by no punishments for any South Sydney players after the lewd texting scandal during last year's finals.

The return of Matt Lodge also led to negative headlines last year, after two years out of the game over his violent 2015 New York rampage.

"(Rugby League) has (tried) to be compassionate, rehabilitative & give young, remorseful players another chance. Sadly that policy has been tested by off season behaviour," Beattie tweeted.

"As a result the ARLC/ NRL have spelt out the game's policy which I have highlighted over the weekend."