The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) says Mitchell Pearce’s welfare must be the priority as the Sydney Roosters’ playmaker focuses on getting his life back on track.
On Thursday, Pearce was suspended from the first eight rounds of the new NRL season and fined $75,000 for his drunken, lewd Australia Day antics.
RLPA CEO Ian Prendergast said it had been an extremely difficult situation to deal with for all those involved.
“Our focus has been on working with the Sydney Roosters and the NRL to ensure Mitch’s wellbeing remained the priority throughout and that a fair process was followed,” said Prendergast.
“Whilst people will have different views about the penalty imposed, it now allows Mitch a period of time to focus on getting his life and football career back on track.”
Prendergast says the suspended ($50,000) portion of the penalty is additional motivation for Pearce, who has already indicated his determination to rebuild his personal and professional reputation.
“It’s important our players and the public understand that $50,000 of the fine has been suspended, so it is effectively a $75,000 fine, with Mitch being on full pay throughout the eight-week period.
“Mitch has shown genuine remorse and taken full responsibility following his actions, actions that have also caused him embarrassment and humiliation,” said Prendergast, also noting Pearce had been removed from the role of co-captain and from the Roosters’ leadership group for 2016.
“The RLPA will continue working with the Roosters club to ensure Pearce’s wellbeing is protected and that he has all the support he needs.
“This is a life transition for Mitch and we all need to work together to make sure it’s a success,” said Prendergast.