Under the government’s COVID-19 restrictions on gathering and movement, members of the public were not permitted to leave their residence in April “without reasonable excuse”. Further, gatherings of more than two people were not allowed in a public place. However, Addo-Carr’s legal team believe he has not broken the law given the gathering at Mitchell’s farm was on private property and there were extenuating circumstances that made the visit permissible.
Given the circumstances, the NRL has been urged to defer its final ruling until the matter has been finalised in court. An outcome isn’t expected until later in the year.
Addo-Carr had been isolating in Sydney when his Kempsey-based partner informed him there were complications with her pregnancy. Shortly afterwards, he was told that a cousin was in a fragile state after breaking up with his long-term partner. Knowing that Mitchell needed help on his farm to complete repairs from damage sustained during recent bushfires, the NSW and Australian winger invited his cousin and another relative to help out in the belief it would assist with his mental health.
While Addo-Carr plans to argue he didn’t technically break the law, he still issued a public apology after the incident became public.
“Firstly, I’d just like to apologise for my actions this weekend, nothing was intentional or deliberate,” Addo-Carr posted on Instagram last month.
“A couple of family members of mine were going through a really tough time at the moment and I got in contact with Latrell to go out to his private property and try to connect to our culture again and try to put a smile on their faces and have a bit of fun as well.
“I can’t wait to go out there and finally play some footy and like I said before, I’m really sorry from the bottom of my heart.”
Addo-Carr has matured from a wayward teenager to role model during a heady rise in the NRL, earning a Ken Stephen Medal nomination for his community work last year. However, Rugby League Central hit the man dubbed ‘The Fox’ with the harshest possible financial penalty, albeit a significant portion suspended, despite the fact that players will receive only 80 per cent of their annual salaries due to the coronavirus shutdown.
Cleary was issued with his breach notice on Monday night, as was Panthers teammate and housemate Tyrone May. The latter, still serving a suspension for his role in a sex-tape scandal,has accepted a $15,000 fine and a further two games on the sideline for his role in the latest TikTok incident.
The Panthers halves have chosen not to challenge the breach notice after they were filmed partying with a group of young females on social media during the COVID-19 lockdown. The pair did not disclose the video during their initial interviews with the integrity unit. The club now faces the prospect of picking the relatively inexperienced halves duo of Jarome Luai and Matt Burton when the competition restarts.
“Our club has a responsibility to our members, our corporate partners, our community and the game as a whole to uphold certain standards of behaviour,” said Panthers Group CEO Brian Fletcher in a statement.
“When a player or staff member falls short of those standards, as has been the case in this instance, there must be meaningful consequences.
“To that end Panthers supports the sanctions proposed by the NRL in relation to Nathan Cleary and Tyrone May. Both players have this morning expressed sincere remorse for their actions and confirmed to the club they will accept the proposed sanctions.
“The club will continue to provide Nathan and Tyrone with the support they require as the team prepares for the recommencement of the 2020 NRL season. We consider the matter finalised at this point and the club will be making no further comment.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.