NRL boss Todd Greenberg has promised a new hardline stance on off-field issues after Andrew Fifita and Semi Radrada had been ruled ineligible for Kangaroos selection.
Cronulla prop Fifita and Parramatta winger Radradra were excluded from selection for coach Mal Meninga’s Australian squad for next month’s Four Nations.
Fifita is under investigation by the NRL integrity unit for his support of one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge.
“Andrew is clearly a talented footballer and he played a key role in the Sharks’ grand final win,” Greenberg said.
“However, we believe that to wear the Australian jersey, the most-prestigious jersey in our game, you should have to distinguish yourself both on and off the field.
“Andrew is being investigated by the integrity unit after wearing an armband supporting someone convicted of a criminal offence. While that may not be illegal, it was in poor taste to the extreme.”
Fifita’s troubled past, including a six-match NRL suspension for abusing a junior referee, was factored into the stance taken against him, Greenberg said.
Radradra is facing court over domestic violence allegations.
“In regards to Semi Radradra, I’m sure you will all be aware that he faces serious charges to be heard at the end of the Four Nations tournament,” Greenberg said.
“We don’t want him or the team to be distracted by this case and we think Semi should devote all his time and energy to this legal matter.”
Greenberg and Grant had discussed the issue with Meninga, who supported the governing body’s stance.
“We’ve drawn a line in the sand as far as player behaviour is concerned,” Meninga said.
“I think the Kangaroos should be held in that high esteem and the players are buying into that.”
Meninga has drafted seven rookies into his 24-man squad in Shannon Boyd, Jake Friend, Tyson Frizell, Valentine Holmes, James Maloney, Matt Moylan and Justin O’Neill.
Boyd, Friend and Holmes have all earned a Kangaroos call-up before playing Origin football.
Paul Gallen’s and Corey Parker’s representative careers are over. Parker has retired from the NRL, while Gallen has stood down from State of Origin next year but will play on with Cronulla.
“They’ve been great servants to the green and gold jersey but we move on and look to the future,” Meninga said.
Incumbent bench forwards James Tamou and Josh McGuire were also overlooked due to form, Meninga said.
Wests Tigers star fullback James Tedesco was arguably the most-notable omission. Meninga said Tedesco was “very, very close” to selection but that Darius Boyd and Matt Moylan were ahead of him as the game’s premier fullbacks.
Brett Morris was not considered due to a knee injury.
Australia play a one-off Test against New Zealand in Perth on October 15 before flying out to England.
The Kangaroos open their Four Nations campaign against Scotland on October 28 at Hull.