The NRL Integrity Unit will investigate claims the Newcastle Knights indulged in trouble-free Mad Monday celebrations following their 40-10 win over the Dragons.
The Knights, who finished twelfth on the ladder following a difficult season, are facing criticism by some within the NRL for not dressing in offensive costumes or treating women in a derogatory way, at a club-organised barbecue.
“We were appalled to hear that men like Kurt Gidley and Willie Mason, both respected veterans of the game, didn’t show up dressed as Nazis or yell obscenities at female reporters,” a spokesperson for the NRL said. “The NRL has come to expect certain behaviours from players during Mad Monday celebrations, so to hear one club has broken rank with the others not only tarnishes those other clubs, but risks this behaviour spreading across the league in the years to come.”
Club legend Timana Tahu, who won a grand final with the Knights in 2001, told FMF he’s surprised nobody behaved in an inappropriate manner.
“I expected at least one of the guys to simulate fellatio with a sausage during the barbecue, or at the very least pretend to sodomize a teammate with it. Mad Monday has a long, proud history, and given we’re in the lead-up to finals, I’d say this is not the kind of publicity the NRL would want.”
Outgoing coach Wayne Bennett, who is returning to the Brisbane Broncos in 2015, said the reports of players engaging in light-hearted banter, playing pool and having a few quiet beers are grossly inaccurate.
“I’ve been in this game for more than forty years. Last Monday was pretty tame, but you’ve got to remember that it’s a different time now. We can’t expect our players to just show up and debase themselves in front of each other. Still, for tradition’s sake, it would be nice if they put a little effort next year.”
Other clubs had no difficulty celebrating Mad Monday, with reports that at least two players were seen using a bicycle in what one witnesses described as “a way in which a bike was never meant to be used. My God, what did I just see?”
An NRL source says the administration is considering different approaches to prevent this kind of non-event happening in the future, including allowing clubs to sign a marquee ‘Mad Monday’ player outside the salary cap. “It’s a traditional part of the rugby league season, and if clubs can’t afford to bring in someone who is willing to turkey-slap one of his mates, then we need to look at ways we can help them.”
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