Buzz: Why Latrell has been treated unfairly
Latrell Mitchell has been unfairly treated with his NRL-imposed punishment for breaching COVID-19 rules in a first-up failure for acting NRL CEO Andrew Abdo, The Daily Telegraph's Sports Editor-at-large Phil Rothfield says.
The South Sydney fullback and Melbourne Storm winger Josh Addo-Carr were both fined $20,000, with $30,000 suspended, and given a one-match suspended ban by the NRL for a weekend camping trip to Mitchell's farm on the NSW mid-north coast.
Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary was also fined $4000, with $6000 suspended, and handed a one-match suspended ban for allowing a group of women to visit his Penrith home on Anzac Day.
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Both Addo-Carr and Mitchell were fined $1000 by NSW police for breaching COVID-19 laws, Cleary escaped punishment because, as it was his house, he was not deemed to have broken the law.
Speaking on The Daily Telegraph NRL Podcast, Rothfield said there were numerous reasons why the identical sanctions for Mitchell and Addo-Carr were not just.
"I just for the life of me can't understand why Latrell Mitchell has been treated as harshly as Josh Addo-Carr," Rothfield said.
LISTEN! The Daily Telegraph NRL podcast is back - Adam Mobbs is joined by Phil "Buzz" Rothfield and Michael Carayannis to talk why Latrell Mitchell was hard done by, Josh Addo-Carr, Nathan Cleary's omission of fact, Project Apollo and that Queensland Grand Final bid
"Latrell didn't go camping - he was on his own property. Latrell didn't have two prior COVID-19 warnings.
"Latrell didn't leave his property to go riding unregistered motorbikes on the beach at South West Rocks.
"Latrell didn't foolishly post the photos on social media.
"It's wrong that he has been treated as harshly as Josh Addo-Carr."
The Daily Telegraph revealed this week that Addo-Carr was warned twice in 11 days for violating COVID-19 restrictions before he was caught for a third time on the weekend camping trip that threw the NRL into crisis.
"It's been a round one failure for the stand-in chief executive Andrew Abdo," Rothfield said.
"He is the CEO and all these decisions stop with the CEO.
"He's been badly advised by (Integrity Unit boss) Nick Weeks.
"I think the punishments handed down have been inadequate and inconsistent.
"I'm really disappointed that these players who have put the game at risk, the livelihoods of so many people at risk, the relationship with the government and health officials at risk, have basically escaped with nothing."
The Daily Telegraph NRL reporter Michael Carayannis said rugby league was under the microscope by trying to restart the competition on May 28 and needed to send a stronger message about obeying social distancing protocols.
"They had an opportunity the NRL to go hard on these guys and really punish just the sheer arrogance for flouting social distancing rules," Carayannis said.
"They're no different from all over us, rugby league players.
"Just to flout of it. The sheer arrogance of them to think they are above everyone else and jeopardise the potential for the game to come back.
"They've done major damage to the code."
As well as the inconsistency with the punishments, Rothfield also believed they were grossly inadequate.
"I'm not in the business of defending (Latrell) because I think the punishment he got was the right one but the other guys should have got much heavier," Rothfield said.
"You tell me, the police are saying they are not fining young Nathan Cleary because he was in his own home on the drink when four girls came in for a dance, a TikTok, whatever.
"Well Latrell was on his own property. So what's the difference, seriously? It's not right.
"Latrell's biggest mistake was letting Josh Addo-Carr use his rifle. That is a separate matter. He's facing firearm charges.
"Addo-Carr and Cleary - Cleary for telling fibs - those two should be out for a month, minimum."
Originally published as Buzz: Why Latrell has been treated unfairly