Phil Gould defends Mark Coyne on Monday night.
Phil Gould defends Mark Coyne on Monday night.

Gould lashes ‘ridiculous hysteria’

UNDER-fire ARL commissioner Mark Coyne's fate will be decided on Thursday next week.

Chairman Peter Beattie is set to confer with NRL clubs on whether there is an appetite for Coyne to be sacked.

Beattie will meet with the former St George and Queensland great next Monday upon his return from holidays before the independent commission meets three days later.

Coyne was stood down after he was arrested and fined $4000 for swearing at police while on holidays in Singapore.

He was detained in the southeast Asian city state for seven weeks after having his passport confiscated.

His situation is made worse by the fact it took him six weeks to inform the NRL and the commission that he had been arrested.

He argued, however, he had immediately informed Beattie after being charged last Tuesday and that he had feared news of his arrest would leak and create a media circus, therefore leading to the likelihood of a harsher sentence.

Mark Coyne speaks after arriving back in the country.
Mark Coyne speaks after arriving back in the country.

Critics have argued that Coyne must be sacked, especially considering the hard-line stance the game took on player behaviour earlier in the year with the introduction of the "no fault" stand-down rule.

But Phil Gould launched a passionate defence of Coyne on Monday night, labelling the coverage of the story as "ridiculous".

"The media hysteria is ridiculous," Gould said on Channel 9's 100% Footy. "It's the media putting words in people's mouths."

"They don't know the facts, they don't know exactly what happened, they don't know the ordeal he's been through over the past seven weeks. They don't know how important it was that no one found out in Australia.

"If this media storm that we've seen over the last week had have occurred while he was still in Singapore, he'd be in jail today."

Gould detailed the time he had spent with Coyne since his return to Australia and said Coyne had tried handing in his resignation twice but was rebuffed by Beattie.

"I can tell you because he's my neighbour, I'll declare that for you straight away," Gould said. "He was at my place last night still distraught over this whole thing and the way it's been portrayed in the media.

"The advice he was receiving the whole time is, if anyone in the media find out this will be terrible for you. If there is any criticism of the Singapore legal system, it will be terrible for you.

"Mark has said on a number of times, the first time he rang Peter Beattie he said, 'This is what has happened to me' … and he said 'I will have to resign, this will cause some trouble.' And Peter Beattie said, 'No you're not resigning we'll deal with this when you get back.'

"The way this is playing out with 'oh he can't be on the commission' is absolutely ridiculous. He was at my place last night. He's so shattered. He was scared to leave the house."

Cronulla Sharks skipper Paul Gallen said the league's stance with players nowadays spelled trouble for Coyne.

"I feel like where it's ended up, his position as a commissioner will be untenable because of the public scrutiny," Gallen said.

"If any player gets in trouble and he doesn't it's going to be untenable for him."

Beattie wrote to the chairman and CEOs of all 16 clubs on Sunday night, asking them for their views.

He was adamant  he would not been rushed into a decision after copping criticism himself for not cutting short his own holidays in Western Australia to sort out the matter.

It's been questioned why the commission did not have a phone hook-up to discuss Coyne's future.

But Beattie defended his handing of the matter, saying there were three commissioners overseas and Coyne deserved the opportunity to plead his case in person.

"Mark Coyne is entitled to have a face-to-face meeting with ARLC commissioners to present his case and for us then to discuss his future," Beattie told AAP.

"A phone hook-up is not good enough.

"I am sure rugby league fans would agree that if their future was being discussed, they would expect a face-to-face meeting.

"There are currently three commissioners overseas in different time zones."

- with AAP

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