GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 14: Brent Naden of the Panthers charges forward during the round 14 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Central Coast Stadium on August 14, 2020 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 14: Brent Naden of the Panthers charges forward during the round 14 NRL match between the New Zealand Warriors and the Penrith Panthers at Central Coast Stadium on August 14, 2020 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

‘Clowns’: Fans face life ban after racial abuse claims

 

NRL boss Andrew Abdo has declared the code will impose a life ban on any fan found guilty of racial abuse or vilification.

In a swift response to allegations of vile abuse directed at Penrith's Brent Naden, Abdo said the NRL Integrity Unit would do everything within their power to investigate and deal with eight men who were ejected from Central Coast Stadium on Friday night.

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Brent Naden has allegedly been the victim of disgusting racial abuse.
Brent Naden has allegedly been the victim of disgusting racial abuse.


The NSW Police, stadium security, eye-witness accounts and Naden himself have all provided evidence to the NRL, who intend to come down hard on the perpetrators, if found guilty.

The NRL is also in possession of social media posts, videos and the account names of the men thought to be involved.

"What happened last night (Friday), if allegations are proven to be of a racial nature or vilification nature, we'll take the strongest possible action the game can take against those individuals involved,'' Abdo said.

"We will take whatever action necessary to make sure that those fans, who have proven to have acted in this way, that they are not able to attend our games going forward.

"Things like this don't happen often, but they should never happen.

"When they do happen we have to act decisively and that's what we intend to do.''

The video has disgusted some of the game’s biggest names.
The video has disgusted some of the game’s biggest names.


The Panthers players, coaching staff and senior management have rallied behind a "rattled" Naden following the incident which occurred during the Panthers victory over the Warriors.

"Our only focus is the welfare of Brent and we're extremely proud of the way he has handled himself,'' Penrith chief executive Brian Fletcher said.

"I've spoken to Andrew (Abdo) and he has ensured Brent and the Panthers that the NRL will lead a thorough investigation into the matter.''

Abdo said Naden should be applauded for standing-up to expose behaviour that the code won't stand for.

"I'd like to commend the actions of Brent Naden, who in this particular case was brave and who made everyone aware of what had occurred,'' Abdo said.

"It's important that everyone in our game feels supported.''

Abdo said a video allegedly featuring the eight men who subjected Naden to vile racial abuse would be used as evidence.

Posted on Instagram, the video shows the men leaving the stadium on Friday night, yelling; "F--k the Panthers" while performing an indigenous dance for the camera.

The video was believed to have been posted by one of the eight men ejected from the stadium by security after Naden reported he was the recipient of vile comments during the Panthers victory over the Warriors.

"I've seen the footage and this investigation is about piecing together who is who and who did what,'' Abdo said.

Naden was shocked how much the abuse affected him.
Naden was shocked how much the abuse affected him.

Former Kiwi Test hooker Issac Luke uploaded and tweeted the video of the eight men outside Central Coast Stadium at 10.25pm on Friday night.

"This was an awesome game to watch,'' Luke wrote.

"Proud of the @NZWarriors brothers.

"I don't know what was said to the bro Naden. But these clowns walked out of the grounds like this.

"This video takes so much away from our game. Learn to respect others cultures."

Past and present players including Lote Tuqiri and Panthers hooker Api Korisau have responded to Luke's post while Brisbane Broncos legend Steve Renouf replied to the video: "These lads failed pre school! So don't expect much else from them.''

Naden's Panthers teammates have since shown their support online for the winger, who told coach Ivan Cleary that the abuse isn't an isolated incident.

"Pieces of sh-t"," Nathan Cleary wrote on Instagram about the ejected spectators.

"Wtf is wrong with some people."

Tyrone May also called out the incident, writing "maggets" (sic), while Josh Mansour added "enoughs enough, they'll get what's coming."

NRL great Willie Mason was also among those to speak out on social media and offered a strong rebuke for the alleged offenders.

"The filthy racist pricks that got booted out of Gosford for racial abuse towards Brent Naden should be named and shamed all through the media and never be allowed to watch any professional game live in Australia," he wrote.

 

The Panthers were dominant in the first half, forcing seven line dropouts. Picture: Getty Images.
The Panthers were dominant in the first half, forcing seven line dropouts. Picture: Getty Images.

MARCH TO HISTORY

Think of all the great Penrith teams dating back to 1967.

Then consider this: of all those great sides none ever marched to nine straight victories.

That in itself tells you there is something very special about this lot who have a wonderful blend of youth and experience, flair and good old fashioned grunt.

"Our history is over 50 years so it is a pretty nice feather in the cap," a proud Cleary conceded.

And while some might focus on the fact the Panthers couldn't quite land the killer blow after at leading 16-0 right up until the final minute before halftime, what shouldn't be underestimated is just how well they dig in for each other.

Having not lost since going down to Parramatta 16-10 back in round five, you could concentrate every Penrith match report on Nathan Cleary's performance.

But the thing about the footy they are playing at the moment is that absolutely everyone is doing their job _ and they are doing it with close to faultless execution in large patches.

Whether it's Cleary's halves partner Jarome Luai, crafty hooker Api Koroisau, the pack led by the tremendous starting middles James Fisher-Harris, James Tamou and Isaah Yeo, big Billy Kikau and Liam Martin on the edges, or any member of the backline.

Not least fullback Dylan Edwards who was superb in extremely difficult wet conditions.

Once again the Panthers didn't concede a point in the opening quarter for the 13th straight match _ another record _ with Cleary showing poise and patience defying his 22 years.

He produced restart after restart with an incredibly composed kicking game that aided a massively lop-sided possession rate, and he also set up the first try for Naden with a beautiful cut-out ball.

Koroisau again showed why he's rated the buy of the year, beating four defenders off a dummy half scoot to score, while Edwards bagged the other first half try off a classy Josh Mansour kick.

The Warriors’ Chanel Harris-Tavita came up with a huge shot on the Panthers’ Liam Martin. Picture: Getty Images.
The Warriors’ Chanel Harris-Tavita came up with a huge shot on the Panthers’ Liam Martin. Picture: Getty Images.

BRAVE WARRIORS

While the Warriors couldn't make it three wins on the trot, it was still another inspired performance.

Backing up from wins against Manly and Wests Tigers, they pushed the competition leaders right until the final siren, which few teams have done.

Since the departure of Stephen Kearney, the Warriors have showed tremendous character under stand-in coach Todd Payten, whose stocks go up by the week as he pushes for the Cowboys' job.

Captain courageous Roger Tuivasa-Sheck again led the way in attack and defence and Kodi Nikorima had some standout moments, but across the park to a man they just tried their guts out.

And that's something about this Warriors side we haven't said for years.

Panthers 18 (Tries: Naden, Koroisau, Edwards & Goals: Cleary 3/4) Warriors 12 (Tries: Tuivasa-Scheck, Herbert & Goals: Herbert 2/2) at Central Coast Stadium.


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