David Fifita arrives back in Brisbane on Tuesday. Picture: Liam Kidston.
David Fifita arrives back in Brisbane on Tuesday. Picture: Liam Kidston.

Furious Greenberg lets fly: ‘We can’t afford this’

TODD Greenberg's frustration has boiled over with the NRL chief executive expressing his fury at repeated off-field incidents and warning misbehaving NRL stars are putting their lucrative careers in jeopardy.

As the NRL integrity unit prepares to grill Broncos young gun David Fifita over his Bali brouhaha, Greenberg resembled an angry headmaster as he lashed NRL bad boys following two Indonesian incidents in three weeks.

On the same day Fifita returned to Brisbane, Greenberg flew north of the border to launch the second instalment of the NRL's Magic Round, which attracted more than 130,000 fans for last year's historic event at Suncorp Stadium.

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Instead of waxing lyrical about 272 NRL stars descending on Brisbane next year for Magic Round 2.0, Greenberg was grilled about Fifita being locked up in Bali just weeks after the Nelson Asofa-Solomona affair.

Usually as calm as he is well-spoken, the NRL boss looked visibly annoyed as he addressed the Fifita saga and the threat of a second consecutive off-season summer of shame.

"I am frustrated," Greenberg fired.

"I am frustrated because there are so many good stories to be told.

NRL boss Todd Greenberg at the launch of Magic Round in Brisbane on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images
NRL boss Todd Greenberg at the launch of Magic Round in Brisbane on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

"I fly here to Brisbane to promote what is one of the great innovations in rugby league (Magic Round). Last year we brought 130,000 fans to one stadium over one weekend. We did something no other sport in this country has done and no-one has asked me a question about it.

"I want to talk about the great things that happen in rugby league but unfortunately I'm a realist that when someone makes a poor decision, I'm accountable to it and have to talk about it.

"It (the Fifita incident) is a terrible look. Most importantly he is home and safe and back with his family so I'm very happy about that. It's up to our integrity unit to try and get to the bottom of that and I understand that will happen pretty quickly over the next few days so I can review a report.

"Players need to be acutely aware of the circumstances they place themselves in and the decisions they make, particularly in environments that are foreign to them.

"Players are on notice about the decisions they make and the accountability that goes with those decisions.

"I'm not calling out this specific example because I don't know the details yet and I will wait to see the full report but it's a reminder again for players _ make good decisions, don't put yourself in a vulnerable position.

"If you do, you put your career in jeopardy."

Greenberg would not be drawn on the prospect of harsher penalties for offenders but stressed the NRL has the power to invoke the no-fault stand down policy enacted earlier this year following the Jack de Belin saga.

Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona lets fly in Bali.
Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona lets fly in Bali.

"I'm not sure if it's about cracking down, but it's ensuring players make good decisions," he said.

"Players are adults. They have to make their own decisions and they have to be held accountable to them.

"We had a player (Asofa-Solomona) in Bali who missed an entire Test series, he missed three Test matches playing for his country and missed an enormous amount of money in match payments.

"I don't want to see players miss games, I honestly don't, but if they continue to make poor decisions there has to be consequences and we will create consequences for poor decisions.

"We have a provision called a no-fault stand down for a reason.

"It's there to protect the game. We've used it again recently and if we have to use it again we will.

"A small number of players are making poor decisions and that creates the headlines we're seeing. I don't want to read the headlines. I don't want to have another off-season of players doing the wrong thing.

"The game can't afford that. The fans don't want to see it and I don't want to see it."