Trent Robinson cops backlash over 'appalling' new comments about Michael Jennings

White Ribbon Australia boss Melissa Perry has called out the Roosters coach's decision to recognise Michael Jennings' milestone match.

White Ribbon Australia boss Melissa Perry has taken aim at Trent Robinson for his 'outrageous and appalling' decision to celebrate controversial NRL star Michael Jennings' 300th match. The Roosters coach said the club will celebrate the centre's milestone in private amid the NRL's decision to not officially recognise the achievement on Thursday night due to his controversial past.

Jennings recently returned to the NRL from a three-year ban for performance-enhancing drugs and also was embroiled in a 2021 civil case in which his ex-wife successfully sued him for sexual and verbal abuse. Jennings did not face criminal charges and has repeatedly denied allegations of raping former partner Kirra Wilden. A NSW District Court judge did, however, find in Wilden's favour on the balance of probability in the civil matter, and ordered Jennings to pay close to $500,000 in damages.

Michael Jennings pictured left and Trent Robinson right
Trent Robinson has been slammed by White Ribbon Australia boss Melissa Perry for his 'outrageous and appalling' decision to celebrate Michael Jennings' 300th game. Image: Getty

Ahead of the Roosters game against Newcastle on Thursday, Robinson insisted Jennings' return was 'not disrespectful to women' and dismissed claims that the NRL allowing him to come back showed the league does not take female safety seriously. "It's a tough one, right? Because there's no doubt we've moved a long way in that sense," Robinson said when asked about the criticism levelled at the club for selecting Jennings.

"We don't know what happened ... there's been no criminal charges. The differentiation between what happens in civil and financial payment and what happens in criminal is really different.

"What judgement can we make when it's not been criminal (charges) and gone down the traditional line there? And so therefore, it's not disrespectful to women, because there has been no judgement when it's come to criminal case in that way."

White Ribbon Australia condemn Trent Robinson's comments

But Perry says his reasoning is simply not good enough, calling out Robinson for not showing leadership or accountability. "These comments by the Sydney Roosters coach are frankly outrageous and appalling," she told News Corp. "Whilst it's important that we continue to support men who behave in unacceptable ways to change their behaviour, we must also ensure there are consequences for their actions.

"This was a missed opportunity by Trent Robinson to display genuine leadership within his club and the wider sporting community on how important it is for men and boys to play an active role in women's safety and calling out men's violence and abuse. The complete lack of accountability on display is astounding." The Roosters coach's comments also went down like a lead balloon on social media, with many saying they have lost all respect for him.

Trent Robinson says only NRL can explain why they allowed Michael Jennings to return

Robinson said the decision to allow Jennings to return to the game wasn't his call but says the Tri Colours did their own due diligence before bringing the veteran to the club at the end of his drug ban. "We spent a lot of time at the start and had to go through everything," Robinson said. "Because I knew his partner as well, Kirra, when they were here (at the Roosters) together.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 05:  Michael Jennings of the Roostersis tackled during the round five NRL match between Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters at Accor Stadium on April 05, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Michael Jennings made his return to the NRL against the Canterbury Bulldogs last week.

"There's been no criminal investigation. So we've just had to run on the facts there, and then going through where his life's at, where his family's at at the moment. We take pride in the responsibility of getting that right. And helping with that."