Footy stars Cameron Munster and Brandon Smith are tipped to be heavily fined and suspended for the start of the 2022 season – but will escape further sanctions from the NRL following the ‘white powder’ scandal due to a loophole in the sport.
Footage of the Melbourne Storm pair in a hotel room last weekend where a white substance was visible on a coffee table has given the code unwanted headlines in grand final week.
Along with teammate Chris Lewis, two of rugby league’s biggest names were grilled by the NRL Integrity Unit on Tuesday.
While New Zealand Warriors young gun Reece Walsh will have a strike against his name after he was busted with cocaine last Saturday night on the Gold Coast, Munster and Smith will avoid a similar outcome.
The current illicit drug testing policy prevents the NRL from taking samples outside the season – and Melbourne’s season was over after they were beaten 10-6 by Penrith in the preliminary final on Saturday afternoon.
NRL star Cameron Munster (pictured right) is tipped to be suspended for the start of the 2022 season
He will be joined on the sidelines by Storm teammate Brandon Smith (pictured with his mother)
It is believed Munster, who had a lawyer present on Tuesday, told the NRL Integrity Unit he couldn’t recall any events from the hotel room from last weekend.
He has previously spoken about his battles with alcohol binge drinking.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo is ‘very disappointed’ at what was said to have unfolded.
‘Why this is so frustrating is that everybody has worked so hard to keep the season going… and here we are in grand final week talking about a small group of players who have made some poor choices,’ he said.
‘Those choices impact everyone including the playing group. That comes at a cost and if there have been breaches of our rules we will take action.’
ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys dismissed talk the code has a party drug problem, before questioning why players would want to ‘hurt their bodies’ and ‘fry their brains.’
According to the Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield, Munster is poised to fined $40,000 and teammate Smith $20,000 – while Lewis and Walsh are facing penalties of $5000.
Following the two incidents last weekend, the NRL has confirmed they want to see hair follicle testing for illicit drugs – as seen in the AFL – on the agenda for next year and beyond.
Urine testing sees traces of cocaine often disappear after four days – if not earlier – allowing players to potentially take the party drug knowing it will be soon out of their system.
Under the current NRL illicit drugs policy, players are given three strikes; a warning for first offenders, a 12-match ban for a second strike and deregistration for a third offence.
The Storm issued a statement on Tuesday night, with chief executive Justin Rodski pledging the club will be thorough in their response to the matter.
‘The players involved have fully cooperated with the NRL and the NRL Integrity Unit investigation. It is our understanding this investigation is unlikely to be concluded this week,’ it read.
‘Melbourne Storm unashamedly sets high standards and makes no apologies for protecting and upholding the professionalism and values of our organisation.
‘The club is conducting its own investigation into the matter and will provide an update on our findings in conjunction with the NRL when both processes have concluded.’
Leaked mobile phone footage in the form of two videos have many now questioning the famed club culture of Melbourne Storm.
In one clip seen by Daily Mail Australia, Kiwi international Smith can be seen sitting in front of the coffee table with a white substance on it, along with a rolled up note and a card.
A shirtless Munster is seen standing behind his Storm teammate as a group of men in the room chat, with one slurring: ‘I’m happy everyone is here’.
Another clip emerged on Tuesday morning, showing Munster dancing on a table while holding what appears to be a small package containing white powder.
‘Settle down Munster,’ the clip is captioned.
Both stars attended the Dally M awards on Monday night in Brisbane where Smith won Dally M Hooker of the Year.
A second leaked video emerged on Tuesday morning showing Munster dancing on a table (left) and holding a clear plastic bag appearing to contain white powder (right)
The pair were initially all smiles on the red carpet as Munster donned a patterned suit as he posed for photos with teammate Jesse Bromwich.
Smith was joined on the red carpet by his mother.
The two players looked visibly shaken for much of the night as their supportive teammates rallied around them.
‘I am sorry, I am not saying anything tonight,’ Munster told News Corp.
Smith added: ‘I have no comment.’
Storm coach Craig Bellamy briefly addressed the scandal moments after winning Dally M coach of the year, telling reporters everyone has been hurt.
‘I know of the incident,’ he said.
Cameron Munster made a fashion statement as he posed for photos of the Dally m Awards red carpet with Storm teammate Jesse Bromwich
‘I haven’t spoken to those guys yet in detail.
‘It’s in front the integrity unit so we will see what happens from there.
‘It hurts everybody.
‘I don’t know the full details yet. I don’t want to be saying something if it’s not right.
‘I don’t know the absolute details and don’t want to comment any further.’
Storm general manager of football Frank Ponissi declined to comment on the video, other than to say ‘there is a process to go through.’
Neither Munster or Smith were willing to comment on the scandal on Monday night
Footage has emerged of NRL young gun Reece Walsh inside a Gold Coast nightclub before his arrest on Saturday night. This incident is unrelated to the Queensland player
Concerns of a wide-spread culture of drug use within the sport have been growing after NRL young gun Reece Walsh was arrested at a nightclub for refusing to leave and possessing cocaine.
The New Zealand Warriors fullback appeared alongside the club’s CEO and coach on Sunday afternoon, tearfully admitting to being arrested in possession of the drug and using it through the night.
Video shared on social media shows a blurry-eyed Walsh dancing inside a Gold Coast nightclub on Saturday and repeatedly lifting up his shirt to show his abs.
Walsh sings and gestures at the camera before propelling himself up on a stairway and lifting his legs up. The video was captioned ‘few lines Reece’.
The New Zealand Warriors fullback appeared in a video alongside the club’s CEO and coach on Sunday afternoon, tearfully admitting to being arrested in possession of the drug
Walsh was arrested in Surfers Paradise on Saturday night, hours after Penrith’s preliminary final win over the Melbourne Storm.
Walsh was given a ‘move on direction’ to leave an area near Cavill Avenue, but officers found him still there 45 minutes later.
The 19-year-old was filmed arguing with police before he was handcuffed and led away to a police station where a search found he was in possession of cocaine.
Walsh fronted the Warriors’ fans via video on Sunday afternoon to admit to having the drugs and apologise for ‘getting himself into a bit of trouble’.
‘I was told by some officers last night to move on. I didn’t move on and that led to me getting arrested and taken back to the police station,’ Walsh said.
‘Once I got back to the police station I was searched and I was in possession of a small bag of cocaine, which I had some of during the night.
‘No one else is involved in this. It’s solely on me and I put my hand up. I should never have done it. It’s a mistake that I’ve made, I’m aware of that and I’m really remorseful.’
NRL star Reece Walsh has been arrested in the Gold Coast with footage emerging of the 19-year-old being led away by police