May 12, 2020 / 1:14 AM / 16 days ago

Rugby League-Cleary banned for being 'untruthful' over lockdown breach

MELBOURNE, May 12 (Reuters) - Australia’s National Rugby League has slapped Penrith Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary with a two-match ban and a A$30,000 ($19,450) fine for being “untruthful” about his breach of social distancing rules last month.

Cleary was initially fined A$4,000, with another A$6,000 suspended, for hosting a group of young women at his Sydney home in defiance of public health orders aimed at containing the novel coronavirus.

The 22-year-old son of Panthers head coach Ivan Cleary had said the women were his sister’s friends and had popped in to his house for 10 minutes while waiting for an Uber.

However, images subsequently emerged showing Cleary dancing with the women on the video sharing platform TikTok, and the NRL’s integrity unit re-opened his case.

The NRL said it had issued new breach notices to Cleary and his housemate Tyrone May after the Panthers duo had cooperated with the governing body’s integrity unit.

“The notices allege that the players were untruthful in relation to material matters and the proposed sanctions reflect the seriousness of those allegations,” the NRL said in a statement.

May was given a two-match ban and a A$15,000 fine.

Cleary was among four NRL players, including two internationals, sanctioned last month for breaching social restrictions in eastern New South Wales state.

The breaches have embarrassed the NRL, which has been at pains to convince authorities that it can safely restart the season on March 28.

The season was suspended after two rounds in March due to travel curbs making it untenable.

$1 = 1.5425 Australian dollars Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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