Below is a statement from National Rugby League (NRL) Chief Executive Officer Andrew Abdo in response to public comments made about the NRL judiciary and its members:
“The Judiciary Panel operates in a challenging environment and its members are tasked with making difficult decisions, requiring independent thought and unique insight which comes through playing the game at the highest level.
“There are currently five Judiciary panel members who have played almost 1,000 premiership games collectively and won Grand Finals, State of Origin Series and Test Matches. Their knowledge and understanding of rugby league is unquestionable.
“The Judiciary panel are independent of the NRL or any Club. Our panellists are meticulous in their consideration of evidence and unquestionably independent in the way they deliberate. Aside from decorated rugby league careers our panellists are also successful in their chosen fields.
“There will always be varying public views about every Judiciary decision, just as the facts of every Judiciary matter are unique, but there is no place for anyone to question the independence of the panel.
“The game is very fortunate to have a Judiciary which is Chaired by Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Bellew. Justice Bellew’s services are an asset to our game. His summary of evidence and directions to the panel are again independent and mirror the process of a courtroom.
“Just as the court system issues harsher penalties to citizens with prior offences, our judiciary system also issues harsher penalties to players with prior offences and carry over points. This acts as a deterrent to foul play which assists in keeping players safe. It also recognises and incentivises those Players who maintain an otherwise clean record of play.
“The NRL Judiciary System, as is the case with all processes and systems within the game, will be reviewed during the year. As always, the review will be considered by the Australian Rugby League Commission who will determine what changes may be required taking into account all views.”