Sport Pressure builds on NRL to scrap disgraced Hayne's honours

00:27  28 march  2021
00:27  28 march  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Even though he hasn't played for two years, Hayne's conviction is a stain on the game's reputation. © AAP Even though he hasn't played for two years, Hayne's conviction is a stain on the game's reputation.

DISTRESSING CONTENT - WARNING: The following story may be distressing to some readers.

NRL officials privately believe they will have little choice but to strip Jarryd Hayne of his Dally M awards if any appeal against his sexual assault conviction is unsuccessful.

Even though he hasn't played for two years, Hayne's conviction is a stain on the game's reputation. Every news report about his case describes him as a former NRL star.

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On Monday Hayne was found guilty of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent. Hayne will face a sentencing hearing at Newcastle on May 6. A judge described his prospects of jail as inevitable, although Hayne has said he intends to appeal the convictions.

Hayne is one of the most decorated players in the history of the game, having won the Dally M Medal twice, in 2009 and 2014. He was also the game's rookie of the year, in 2006, and made the team of the year three times. Hayne has also won the Brad Fittler Medal as NSW's player of the year a record three times (2007, 2008 and 2014).

But behind the scenes there is a feeling there is no way the game can associate itself with Hayne if his conviction stands. The prestige of the Dally M Medal and the Brad Fittler Medal would be damaged if the game continued to celebrate someone serving time for such a serious offence against a woman.

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It has been a long time since the game has had to rewrite the history books by deleting an embarrassing part of its past.

In 2010, former chief executive David Gallop took the courageous step of stripping Melbourne of their 2007 and 2009 premierships for breaches of the salary cap.

So far the NRL has said nothing about Hayne's conviction. They will wait until any appeal is determined before deciding what steps to take. The NSWRL will likely follow suit.

However, the NRL may meet some resistance. Dally Messenger III, the grandson of the league great, said Hayne's achievements on the field should stand.

"I think the punishment Jarryd receives from the law and from the NRL is enough," he said. "From my point of view, his achievements should not be wiped from history and his name should still be present on the awards he has won. In no way am I condoning anything he has done or is alleged to have done. What he did in sport should not be taken away."

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Fight for justice

A lot has been written and said since the jury found Hayne guilty.

Through it all the strength of one woman and the sensitivity of another have not been praised enough. This case has impacted lives in ways we will never fully know, but it is time to detail the process that resulted in the verdict. To jog my memory, I've had to refer to a statement I gave to NSW Police on November 30, 2018.

I was required to provide the statement because on October 30 of that year I received a message on Facebook from a person I didn't know. It read: "Hi mate. I'm sorry to disturb you. I have a very serious and sensitive family issue involving a criminal act from a NRL player. The situation is extremely delicate. Is there any way I could have a quick chat to you to get some direction on ways to proceed."

That person, who has now been identified as the victim's brother-in-law, provided a number, which I called a short time after getting the message. As a journalist, I occasionally get these kind of messages and often the motivation is not clear. The message indicated to me that the person was genuine in their concern, but obviously I had a lot of questions to ask.

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I had an extended phone conversation with the man. He told me that on grand final night in 2018, Hayne was involved in an aggressive act with his sister-in-law and he was horrified by what she said took place. He explained to me that he had only just found out. He asked me for advice.

He was genuinely upset and angry. He did not go into detail. What he did tell me was that as a result of what had happened there were blood stains on sheets, which the woman had images of. What gave the story added weight was that he told me his sister-in-law had seen a doctor and there was evidence of what had happened. The man told me the woman had got in contact with Hayne through social media.

After hearing the story I said it was clear she should go to the police, but he told me she was traumatised and did not want to talk to anybody about it.I then suggested that he should contact NRL integrity unit boss Karyn Murphy. I sent a text message to Murphy and she thanked me for referring him. I told Murphy that I had an interest in the matter as a story down the track and to keep in touch. The victim's sister also reached out to me. She had more details of what had happened on that night. Importantly, she was able to tell me about the taxi that waited outside for Hayne.

At no point was there any request for publicity or money from the family or the victim. In fact, they told me the victim never wanted to be in the public eye. Itold them that when the time was right I wanted to do an interview with them or the victim.

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Ironically, I had to interview Hayne on November 7 and asked him about his future. I had promised the family I would not say anything to him about what I knew. After a brief interview, Iwalked beside him back to his car. Not a word was mentioned about the night in question and he was greeted at his car by his partner and child. It was the last time I talked to or saw Hayne.

I tried to contact him after I learnt police were investigating the matter. I sent him text messages. Hayne referenced one of these messages in a phone call to a friend that was picked up by police. I have never spoken to the victim and have not heard from her family since November 12, 2018. As a result, Murphy's true role may never be known. But what I do know is that she instantly felt the woman's story was credible. And she would know.

Murphy has headed up sex crimes units for the police. She has dealt with many victims of sex crimes and given them strength to pursue the truth. Her role in bringing Hayne to justice can't be underestimated. Initially, I felt Hayne would never be held accountable for his actions because the victim did not want to involve police. Something changed, and it happened quickly. That something was Murphy's sensitivity, strength and compassion.

Man of many gifts

Anthony Mundine has no intention of donating his brain to science.

"They won't find anything there," he quipped. "I'm as sharp as the first day I talked to you more than 20 years ago. I don't have any bad effects from boxing.

"I never got a sustained beating and I really only think over all those years I only got knocked out where I was incoherent about two or three times. I honestly think I was knocked out the same as that or more playing footy."

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In fact, he is about to make a return to rugby league.

"I just finished a sprint session - I am getting my speed back so I can play for Waterloo in the A-grade comp," he said.

Souths coach Wayne Bennett showed considerable class, as did a number of other league identities, when they turned up at Mundine's official retirement press conference on Wednesday. He said that when it comes to natural talent, Mundine was in the "grand final" of all those he has coached. That is quite the rap.

"What Anthony showed to everyone is that if you have a dream you can chase it," Bennett said. "He had a never-give-up attitude, and that's what he should be remembered for."

Reynolds or Gagai?

Here is a thought for Souths fans: if Adam Reynolds remains at Redfern the chances of Dane Gagai staying are minimal. Gagai is one of the best three-quarters in the competition and won't struggle to get a start elsewhere. His name has been mentioned at Parramatta, but I've been told by people with knowledge of the situation that Eels coach Brad Arthur is not a fan of the idea.

It is clear that Souths have no room to move under their salary cap, otherwise they would extend Reynolds' contract and the saga would be over.

After being dragged into the Reynolds debate, Greg Inglis has made it very clear he was not given a seven-figure payout by the Rabbitohs. As we explained last week, Inglis' legacy has been tarnished by such suggestions.

"I didn't retire medically ... I fell out of the love with the game," Inglis said. "And I didn't get a million dollars. I had some money owed to me for the rest of the season and only got half of that."

Inglis was speaking from Warrington, where he is preparing to come back to football after two years out. He very nearly pulled out of the deal, telling Warrington of his doubts.

"Now that I am here, I know it's the right decision," he said. "Warrington know how close I was to not getting on the plane. I've told my family I'm committed to this and by the end of this stint I want my body to be destroyed, but that's how I feel. I'm all in."

Being in the bubble has not been easy for him either.

"Mental health is a always a thing for me and it has been an issue," he said. "The club has been fantastic and have given me people I can talk to."

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyondblue on 1300 22 4636, or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.

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