The Parramatta Eels have become subject to an NRL integrity unit investigations after players were overheard making a series of animal noises during a mandatory media session on Wednesday. Players were reportedly making cat and dog sounds while forward Shaun Lane was being interviewed at the club's Kellyville base.
The noises, which could be overheard on vision captured by Channel 7, prompted the NRL to reach out to other media organisations in attendance. One reporter, who spoke to the Daily Telegraph described it as 'bizarre behaviour' considering teammate Dylan Brown had been stood down under the NRL no-fault policy earlier that day after fronting court on charges of sexually touching a woman.
Eels co-captain Clint Gutherson reportedly had to tell his teammates to settle down after being called upon to do so by Parramatta officials. Players are believed to have been making fun of one another, rather than as any kind of response to Brown's situation.
Regardless, the behaviour has reportedly left a poor impression on officials given the circumstances under which players were fronting media on Wednesday. The Eels have confirmed players had been reminded to keep quiet during the media session.
“It was bizarre behaviour to be making cat and dog noises through the windows, especially given the serious nature of why we were there,” one reporter told the Daily Telegraph. “It made everyone feel uncomfortable. We were unsure why it wasn’t addressed.”
The integrity unit will contact the Eels for an explanation. Reporters were contacted after NRL CEO Andrew Abdo was informed of the situation on Wednesday evening.
Dylan Brown stood down by NRL after charges
Brown faced court for the first time on Wednesday following an incident alleged to have occurred at the Golden Sheaf Hotel in Sydney's eastern suburbs about 11.40pm on Saturday night. The Eels five-eighth will return to court on June 28 and if convicted, could spend up to five years in prison.
Per its 'no-fault stand-down policy', the NRL automatically suspends players charged with an offence that carries a maximum prison term of 11 years or more. The NRL spent three days deliberating whether to stand Brown down before announcing its decision on Wednesday afternoon.
"The NRL has today advised the Parramatta Eels that Dylan Brown is subject to a No-Fault Stand Down Condition under the NRL Rules," a statement read. "New South Wales Police charged Dylan Brown with several counts of sexually touch without consent following an incident at Double Bay on Saturday 3 June 2023.
"The NRL decision should in no way be interpreted as a view on the innocence or guilt of the player." As part of the policy, Brown will be unavailable for selection until he receives clearance from the NRL but can continue to train with his teammates. The Eels have accepted the NRL's decision.
"Out of respect for the legal process now under way, the club will not be making any further comment at this time," a club statement read. Parramatta came into last weekend's bye on the back of two consecutive wins but nevertheless remain in 12th position - a far-cry from the top-four finish that helped them secure a grand final berth last year.
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