NRL News: Magic Round tarnished as Origin star faces rape accusation, racist fans banned, Manly player arrested


The NRL’s showpiece Magic Round event is in danger of being swamped by negative headlines with three incidents tarnishing the build-up to the three-day festival at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

A high-profile Queensland-based NRL player has been accused of rape with Nine News airing the allegations on Wednesday night.

The player is reportedly a State of Origin representative who plays for one of the four Queensland teams but cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Queensland Police went to the player’s house on Tuesday with the woman involved who has since made a formal complaint but no charges have been laid.

Meanwhile, journeyman halfback Brandon Wakeham was arrested by NSW Police on Wednesday, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, over potential drug offences.

Brandon Wakeham. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old Fijian representative had been playing for Manly’s feeder club Blacktown this year and had been called up for the Sea Eagles squad as a reserve for their Friday night Magic Round clash with Brisbane.

He has made 40 NRL appearances since starting out with Canterbury five years ago.

The NRL Integrity Unit is aware of both incidents and is investigating the matters.

Two spectators have been banned indefinitely from attending NRL games after allegedly racially abusing Indigenous players Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker during a round-10 game.

On Sunday, the NRL received a report from a fan who claimed the two South Sydney players had been targeted by members of the Jubilee Oval crowd during the loss to St George Illawarra the previous night.

The integrity unit began investigating the matter and on Wednesday afternoon the NRL issued two spectators with a breach notice under the league’s spectator code of conduct.

The code of conduct states patrons risk being disqualified from buying tickets if they “make racial or threatening remarks or gestures” at games.

“Racism must be called out in all its forms because the standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” said NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.

“Abusive behaviour directed at players will not be tolerated. I commend the fans that acted on this and brought it to our attention. With this information we have been able to take action.

“As a game we need to stand with our players and ensure they are treated with respect at all times. We will continue to protect players in their place of work.”

The two spectators, unnamed by the NRL, have five business days to respond.

In a club statement, the Rabbitohs said they were “very supportive” of the bans and thanked NSW Police, the NRL and Dragons for their co-operation in investigating the matter.

“We welcome the NRL’s stance and the banning of these two perpetrators,” said Souths chief executive Blake Solly.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“We applaud the members of the public that stood up and called out this disgraceful behaviour. We hope more people show the bravery that this person has shown to call out racism in an effort to eradicate it from our society.

“We continue to support our players and their families who, unfortunately, still have to face this type of behaviour.

“Racism is archaic, disgusting and will not be tolerated.

“We call for supporters who attend games to respect all players and their efforts on the field.”

Mitchell had been playing his first game back from a three-game suspension for dangerous contact when he was targeted with the abuse, while stand-in captain Walker was playing his 200th NRL game.

A Biripi man, Mitchell was racially abused by a spectator at game in March last year, with that patron banned from future NRL games pending his apology to the Souths star and the completion of educational programs.

The latest incident comes after the NRL judiciary handed Sydney Roosters prop Spencer Leniu an eight-game ban earlier this season for calling Brisbane’s Ezra Mam a “monkey” during the sides’ round-one clash in Las Vegas.

with AAP

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