NRL: Reduce match bans in exchange for heavy fines, with money put into grassroots


Addin Fonua-Blake’s offensive tirade towards referee Grant Atkins after the Sea Eagles controversial loss to the Knights in round eight was a terrible look for the game.


The in-form Manly front rower is now facing a 3-match ban for a Grade Three contrary conduct charge.

I don’t see the value in simply banning him for a few games. He will still get paid and the game doesn’t benefit anything from slapping him with a suspension.

The NRL should implement heavy fines for such incidents and I’m not talking about a measly low-grade $1500, which is nothing more than pocket change for players being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Perhaps a 1-match ban would suffice, but Fonua-Blake should have to cough up $30,000 for bringing the game into disrepute and the money put straight into grassroots and growing the game at junior level.

There is nothing more important to the future survival of the game than ensuring rugby league nurseries are well looked after and struggling junior clubs would certainly benefit from the extra money brought in from a tough fine system. 

Wests Tigers centre Joey Leilua was handed a 4-match ban for his dog-shot on Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards in their round 8 clash. I think a 2-match ban and a $15,000 fine would be harsher. That’s $15,000 towards pathways for young girls aspiring to play rugby league at the highest level.

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Another example where heavy fines should have been implemented last season when Cowboys enforcer Josh McGuire received two contrary conduct charges for ‘rubbish on the face’.

It should have been a $10,000 fine straight out of McGuire’s hip pocket for the first offence, rather than the lousy $3400 fine he received, with the money put straight into junior footy in North Queensland. And if he did it again, slap him with a $20,000 fine, with the money used for developing young referees.

Hudson Young received an 8-match suspension for eye gauging in 2019. He still received his weekly salary though. Perhaps a 4-match ban and a $25,000 fine would have been a better option. $25,000 worth of new resources for volunteers of junior clubs and competitions would have come in handy.


It’s not just the on-field indiscretions which players should pay up if they break the rules.

The NRL have fallen victim to so many commercially-damaging off-field scandals in recent years and if a player costs the NRL or their club corporate or sponsorship money because of their bad behaviour, they should pay up.

Nathan Cleary is an example where the NRL got it right, fining the Penrith halfback $30,000 breaking COVID-19 protocols and lying about it to the NRL integrity unit.


Hopefully that $30,000 goes towards the NRL’s school community programs.

Players would happily choose a suspension over losing a huge amount of money to fines. If a player breaks the rules or brings the game into disrepute, they should pay (literally) the price by giving back to the game which allows you to get paid a lot of money to play the sport they love.

The challenge would be finding consistency in a fine-system, but start hitting these players in their hip pocket. Heavy fines would be a more effective deterrent for player indiscretions.