NRL commentator and reporter Paul Crawley has lashed out at the ‘nation of dobbers’ looking to catch athletes and coaches flouting coronavirus restrictions after a spate of rule-breakers in the NRL.
Speaking during a segment on Fox League, Crawley took aim at the harsh penalties for those caught breaking the NRL’s ‘bubble’ rules, including South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett, St George Illawarra’s Paul Vaughn, Broncos assistant coach Allan Langer and Brisbane star Tevita Pangai Jr.
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Bennett was fined $20,0000 and suspended for two weeks, while Pangai Jr’s visit to a bikie-associated barbershop could wind up costing him his NRL contract.
Crawley said he wasn’t defending their actions, but said actively looking for people breaking the rules was ‘embarrassing’.
“With all that’s happening at the moment with all the COVID violations and the COVID police in society, how we look at it as journalists, how social media looks at it, we have become a nation of dobbers — we really have — and of hypocrites,” he said.
“The way that we impose ourselves into the rugby league lives at the moment and we try and catch people out, I just think it’s embarrassing.
“All the people that have built this country and have built our game to be what it is today, they’d turn in their graves looking at the way we dine out on other people’s misfortune.”
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Crawley would go on to question what was being achieved by issuing such heavy penalties to NRL players and coaches.
“Bennett gets a $20,000 fine and two-week suspension and we sit here last night and debate if that’s enough. What do we want? A public stoning?” he asked.
“I’m not saying what he did was right. What Wayne did was wrong, I’ve told him what he did was wrong, there’s no way of defending it but I kind of think $20,000 and a two-week suspension says it was a serious matter.
“Pangai’s just been sacked for going to support a mate. He made a blue, but is it a sackable offence?”
South Sydney’s Bennett accepted his sanction, while the Broncos are reportedly still weighing up whether Pangai Jr’s breach will cost him his contract.
There were widespread rumours on Tuesday that the highly-paid star would be sacked by the club, but the Broncos issued a statement saying no such decision had been made.
Meanwhile, police in Queensland are investigation the Caxton Hotel in Brisbane, amid reports staff turned of CCTV and ID scanners in order to sneak in Broncos assistant coach Allan Langer for a birthday celebration.