NRL PANTHERS SHARKS
A remorseful Nathan Cleary has described his actions as "irresponsible, selfish and pretty stupid" and vowed to grow from his brush with the law.
The Penrith star, as well as teammate Tyrone May, on Tuesday accepted their two-game NRL ban for social distancing breaches.
Cleary was also slapped with a hefty $30,000 fine for being "untruthful" in dealings with the league's integrity unit.
May, already two games into a separate four-game suspension for intentionally recording an intimate image without consent, also copped a $15,000 fine.
"I'm obviously embarrassed with myself and I'm not happy with what I've done," Cleary told the club's website on Tuesday.
"I just to want to apologise for my actions. My actions were irresponsible, selfish and pretty stupid, to be honest.
"I brought a lot of negative attention to not only myself, but my family, the club, the game as well, and that's what has hurt me the most.
"To move on from here I need to realise I can't change what has already happened, even though I wish I could. The reality is I can't.
"The one thing I can control are my actions moving forward.''
The NSW State of Origin halfback went on to quote 19th century theologian Tryon Edwards when promising to learn from the drama.
"Someone sent me a quote the other day that said, 'Good actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past'," he said.
"And that's what I'll be taking on board. It's a massive learning curve for me. I've learnt a lot about myself and I never want to go through this again.
"This could be the moment I can kick on, especially as a leader and as a person and become better. That's the positive I'm taking out of this, if there is any."
Panthers Group boss Brian Fletcher conceded there had to be "meaningful consequences" when players fell short of upholding standards of behaviour.
"To that end Panthers supports the sanctions proposed by the NRL in relation to Nathan Cleary and Tyrone May," Fletcher said.
"Both players have this morning expressed sincere remorse for their actions and confirmed to the club they will accept the proposed sanctions."
The punishments finally end a two-week saga that that began with photographs emerging of Cleary with friends at his house during the coronavirus lockdown.
He initially explained that the group of friends were over for a short time, before video emerged the next day of him dancing with the same group of friends.
Originally hit with a suspended one-game ban, Cleary and May, his roommate, were dealt a harsher penalty by the governing body.
The suspensions comes as a serious blow for Penrith, given Cleary had been in a rich vein of form as he helped Penrith to start the two-round season unbeaten.
Coach Ivan Cleary, father of Nathan, will now likely be forced to turn to rookie half Matt Burton to partner Jarome Luai when the competition resumes on May 28.