NRL ramps up efforts to stop players betting

Last updated 06:16 11/07/2014
David Williams
IN HOT WATER: Manly winger David Williams was suspended for the rest of the season after betting on NRL games.

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NRL clubs may be forced to disclose the injury status of key players as the code looks to ramp up its efforts to eliminate betting on games by players and officials following the suspension of David Williams and four others.

The NRL is also exploring the possibility of delaying the announcement of teams, which traditionally takes place on Tuesday. Injured players are often named because in some cases the sides have played less than a day earlier. NRL players have also been threatened with an automatic sacking should they place a bet on any rugby league fixture.           

Williams, the former Test and NSW player, has been stood down for the remainder of this season after the Sea Eagles winger was found to have placed multiple bets on games he played in.

The others - Ethan Lowe (North Queensland), Cody Nelson (Gold Coast) and Melbourne's Hymel Hunt and Slade Griffin - all copped two-game suspensions for betting once in matches they were not involved in.

NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said the code's integrity unit was exploring ways to eliminate information on team changes being leaked.

"It is something being looked at," Doyle told 2UE. "It will be continually reviewed, as to how we make sure we eliminate where we possibly can, the opportunities for information to come out and give people some advantage in regards to gambling."

Doyle said the NRL was also exploring the possibility of delaying team announcements.

"That's something the integrity unit is looking at, working with the football department and scheduling," Doyle said. "The last thing you want to do is make a change in one area which causes a bigger issue in another area. It's a case of looking at all that."

Of the five players named, it was Williams who copped the biggest punishment after he was found to have placed multiple bets. Channel Nine reported that Williams had placed a bet on himself to finish last season as the leading try-scorer in the NRL. He finished equal top with 19 tries.

Doyle ruled out any concerns of match- or spot-fixing.

"David Williams had placed multiple bets and some of those multiple bets was when he was performing on the field," Doyle said. "They were small bets, we didn't see that there was any potential for match-fixing.

"These people have made mistakes. It's very clear you can't bet on rugby league. Some [players] were unclear that you couldn't bet on things like State of Origin, All-Stars and the [Auckland] Nines. That's part of the process we are putting in. We want to make sure there is no ambiguity whatsoever."

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Doyle said bets were from A$5 to A$60.  In addition to the players' penalties, three causal game-day officials were sacked and nine others suspended for the rest of the season.

Players face being sacked or suspended for any bet placed on a match, while the NRL will ask players to sign a document declaring they understand and will comply with the NRL's betting rules.

"We are going to up the ante in education and awareness to make sure they know you're not allowed to bet on rugby league," Doyle said. "We are adopting a zero-tolerance policy from this point on. If you are caught betting on rugby league matches in the future, you'll spend a long time on the sidelines or you'll be sacked, no matter how small the bet. Today marks an important step for the NRL."

First and final warnings were issued to 12 registered NRL players, staff and officials, for betting after the NRL's integrity unit audited more than 1500 registered players, officials and staff.

"[The casual game-day staff] are fully employed in other occupations and are basically volunteers," Doyle said. "We feel it's inappropriate to name them."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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