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A former NRL player has pointed the finger at 'young ladies looking for attention', & more in News in 5.

— With AAP.

1. A former rugby league player has pointed the finger at ‘young ladies looking for attention’.


Australian Rugby League chairman Peter Beattie has told the NRL’s sponsors and fans that the league’s no-fault policy will work, despite the game’s season launch being overshadowed by drama.

But as the sport launched their season at Icebergs in Bondi on Thursday night, just hours after Jack de Belin took the game to court over their decision to stand him down under the new rules, former player Steve Mortimer added to the commentary with a very unpopular opinion.

Mortimer said the blame shouldn’t be solely put on players, but also the “young ladies” involved as well.

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“When you go out you’ve got to look after each other and rather than try crack onto the girls or whatever, do what you have to do and then go home,” Mortimer said on ABC News.

“Obviously they’re human beings as well, but look I just think it’s not just the players.

“I think it can also be the young ladies that are looking for a little bit of notice: ‘Oh, I’m being taken out by a certain great rugby league player’ or whatever — I think that’s wrong. I think that’s wrong.”

His statement led to backlash on social media with the masses slamming the former player for victim blaming and peddling the sexist stereotype of ‘attention-seeking women’.

Mortimer said he was shown one of the tapes from the NRL’s ‘sex-tape scandal’ and couldn’t believe what he was seeing.

“Today I went and saw a bloke that I absolutely respect in the game of rugby league, and won’t say who he is, but he showed me this on his iPhone and I just could not believe it that they were having sex. I just thought, how embarrassing is that to yourself and it should never be done. Should never be shown that way.”

He admitted he didn’t know how to fix these issues without the game, but said all clubs could do with “more ambassadors to settle the players down”.

ARL head Beattie earlier on Thursday admitted to AAP his job was on the line over his determination to clean up the game’s image, after he last week claimed the no-fault policy gave the league the power to fix its broken culture.

De Belin’s sexual assault charge – which he has vigorously denied and pleaded not guilty to – is one of several dramas to have plagued the league this summer.

In total 15 players have either gone through the courts since the end of the 2018 regular season or have matters still outstanding, while the sex-tape scandal seemingly remains ongoing.

But Beattie said the new rule was the first of several measures taken to turn around the off-field issues.

“(Commissioner) Professor Megan Davis – who is an expert in this area – will look at our culture, look at the programs we’ve got, to make sure they are delivering what we want them to deliver to the game,” he said.

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“In addition to that, we will be spend $8 million a year on those cultural changes. To make certain that what has happened for a tiny percentage of players doesn’t happen again.”

2. NSW magistrate accused of grooming a boy for years before abusing him.

A Sydney magistrate showered a teenage boy he called “Little Chicken” with gifts, sailing jaunts and overseas holidays before sexually assaulting him, a jury has been told.

Graeme Bryan Curran, 68, has pleaded not guilty in the NSW District Court to nine charges of assault committing an act of indecency in the 1980s when the boy was aged between 13 and 15.

Opening the crown case on Thursday, prosecutor Mark Hobart SC said Curran groomed the youth, encouraging him to sleep naked in bed with him.

Mr Hobart alleges Curran would perform a Saturday ritual with the boy, massaging him and touching his penis.

However defence barrister Phillip Boulten SC told the jury the boy suffered a meltdown as an adult and hypnotherapy treatment may have reshaped his memory of their time together.

Curran met his alleged victim in the late 1970s, babysat him and his siblings and quickly became a part of the family.

“(The parents) were very trusting; he was a very generous person and bought them expensive gifts,” Mr Hobart said.

“He bought them a car and also paid off some of their debts. They thought a lot of the accused and they trusted him.”

Curran allegedly would ask the boy whether he loved him and called him pet names including “Little Chicken”.

As an adult, the complainant got in touch with Curran, telling him of his depression and psychiatric treatment, the prosecutor said.

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“My life was completely f***ed and he played a role”, the complainant said.

After he asked for money, Curran allegedly transferred more than $34,000 to him.

Mr Boulten in his opening said while the boy would visit regularly, the two never slept naked together.

“(Curran) regularly wore a nightgown, a curiosity in itself,” he said.

“There was never any massaging like that that has been described by the complainant.”

Curran was considered a father figure to the boy and his siblings, Mr Boulten said, adding he did not consider their relationship improper.

“He is a very, very caring and, dare I say it, loving person towards (the boy).

“It was not uncommon to give him a big hug or kiss.”

The trial continues before Acting Judge Anthony Rafter.

3. NRL boss Todd Greenberg says league will have stand-down policy in place before season starts.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg is adamant the league will have its no-fault stand-down policy enacted by the start of the season when its legal battle with Jack de Belin returns to court.

De Belin and the NRL’s legal team will head back to the Federal Court next Thursday, after the league’s lawyer admitted the new no-fault rule it used to stand him down was not yet in place.

That came despite the St George Illawarra lock’s barrister Martin Enfield QC referring to widespread comments from the NRL and ARL Commission that he had been stood down.

De Belin has pleaded not guilty to a sexual assault charge levelled against him in Wollongong late last year.

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The admission means de Belin is at this stage still eligible to play in the NRL as he hasn’t been stood down.

Manly’s Dylan Walker, who has a pending assault case, and Penrith’s Tyrone May, who faces several charges over recording and disseminating a sex video, are in the same position.

But Greenberg said at the NRL’s season launch on Thursday that the new rules would be enacted within the next 48 hours.

“What I can tell you is the commission endorsed a policy decision last week,” Greenberg said.

“We then need to write the rule, that will be done in the next 48 hours and from there we let the courts make their decision.”

De Belin is attempting to sue the league on the basis it did not have the power to suspend him last Thursday, and that it engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

He also wants the Federal Court to stop the NRL and ARL Commission from implementing the rule in the future, which would see players charged with offences that carry an 11-year jail term or more automatically stood down on full pay for the duration of their cases.

Under the yet-to-be-enacted rule, Greenberg also has the power to stand down players charged with offences that carry less than 11 years if he wishes, such as in instance of Walker and May.

At the time of the announcement, ARLC chairman Peter Beattie claimed the rules would finally give the Commission the power to fix the game’s broken culture.

Despite what appeared to be a significant misstep from the Commission, Greenberg insisted the body had done its research before announcing the rule.

“We did a lot of homework before we make those decisions and we think very carefully and considered before we do them,” Greenberg said.

Next Thursday’s hearing will come just hours before the season kicks off between Melbourne and Brisbane, and also as the Dragons prepare to fly to Townsville for their round-one clash with North Queensland.

The Saints did not want to comment publicly on the matter on Thursday night, with the Federal Court matter being led by de Belin and separate to the club.

4. Three days after a man died by suicide, an Afghan refugee has attempted to take his life at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre.

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Refugee advocates say an asylum seeker at Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre has attempted to take his own life, three days after a detainee died at the immigration facility.

A male detainee was transported by ambulance from the western Sydney facility after 4am on Thursday.

The Home Affairs department on Thursday evening confirmed he remained in hospital but declined to say why he was there.

“It would be inappropriate to comment on an individual’s personal circumstances,” a spokesperson told AAP in a statement.

The Refugee Action Coalition said the man is a 27-year-old Afghan in the high-security Blaxland compound.

The group says he has been held in detention since 2012. His condition is unknown.

“The terrible toll of indefinite detention cannot be ignored any longer,” spokesman Ian Rintoul said in a statement.

It follows the death of an inmate at the facility on Monday evening six weeks after a Sierra Leone man also died at the centre.

“What these three episodes actually show is … the depth of the despair that is being created by long term detention,” Mr Rintoul told AAP on Thursday.

“There’s just the stark fact about this that detention creates mental health problems that can’t be rectified while people are in detention.”

Mr Rintoul wants all immigration detainees at risk of suicide to be immediately released.

5. Australian sportswomen call for better pregnancy policies across all sports.

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Professional sportswomen in Australia say they need better maternity policies and support when it comes to returning to competitive action after having children.

Women’s NBA basketballer and record-breaker Liz Cambage raised the issue on Thursday during a panel discussion about women in sport.

“Another thing I think we never talk about with women in sport, is when we want to start a family, will we have the support to come back to the sport?” she asked the Future Women audience in Sydney.

Australian bowler Megan Schutt, who is about to marry her partner Jess Holyoake, said Cricket Australia has started talking to them about improving its policies.

“I know it’s a long time coming, but to be involved in those conversations, to have input to say, ‘That could possibly affect me in the future’, is really cool and I’m not sure everyone has had that in the past,” she told AAP.

Her soon-to-be wife will most likely have their first child, Schutt said.

“(But) eventually that’s going to switch and I’m going to want a kid. So for me to have that involvement in the pregnancy policy is great.”

GWS Giants AFLW player Courtney Gum juggles a professional footy career with having a four-year-old son Buz.

“GWS have been really fantastic, I think their heart’s in the right place, but in terms of their system and their structure, it’s just not there yet,” she told the forum.

A supportive coach encourages Gum to bring Buz to training – but things don’t always go to plan.

“During the team meeting Buz is peeking through the door,” she said.

“He’s jumping up on those box jump and he hurts himself and I’m kind of trying to barbell squat and looking over my head.”

In-house babysitting could support sportswomen better, Gum argued.

“It will be a real challenge for women wanting to have kids. (Fellow AFL player) Daisy Pearce has just had twins and I know she’s really looking to come back and play hopefully next season.”

Cambage has seem teammates struggle after having children.

“Do these women have the right support being a full-time athlete and raising children at the same time?” she asked.

As she prepares for the Tokyo Olympics – and approaches her 30s – Cambage is asking herself such questions before having kids.

“Will I be able to come back from that and play again? Will I have the right support there? Will I be financially stable?”

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