News 6 June 2016

NRL match-fixing update: Hayson denial, Manly await confirmation

Eddie Hayson, reported last week to be a ‘person of interest’ in a police investigation into allegations of match-fixing in Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), has denied that he is involved. ‘It doesn’t matter what games they’re talking about,’ Hayson told The Sydney Morning Herald. ‘Match-fixing doesn’t exist in rugby league, as far as I know.’

Hayson said that he had ‘known a lot of the boys [NRL players] for a long time’ but that the allegations were ‘the figment of someone’s imagination’. Hayson also denies that he had bet AUD$500,000 (€322,000) on a match between Manly Sea Eagles and South Sydney Rabbitohs, as was alleged last week.

Andrew Johns, a former rugby league footballer and captain of NRL side the Newcastle Knights, has also denied allegations that he introduced a ‘culture of gambling and partying’ to the Manly Sea Eagles, the team around which the New South Wales (NSW) Organised Crime Squad investigation revolves. Johns was appointed as an assistant coach and consultant in 2012 and is reportedly good friends with Hayson. According to The Daily Telegraph, Johns said the allegations were ‘ridiculous’ and ‘ludicrous’.

The CEO of Manly Sea Eagles, Joe Kelly, has told a press conference that Manly have been ‘unfairly linked’ to the match-fixing allegations. ‘This unfounded speculation is causing our game an awful lot of distress at the moment,’ Kelly told a press conference on Thursday. ‘Not only our game, but our club in particular.’

Kelly said that the NSW Organised Crime Squad had given the club no confirmation of any formal investigation despite the police’s statement of an investigation into ‘alleged match-fixing in the NRL’.

Meanwhile Manly, and the NRL, have been receiving advice from other sports on how to combat potential match-fixing within rugby league. New Zealand Cricket Players Association Chief Executive Heath Mills told the Sydney Morning Herald that the NRL should ‘follow the lead of cricket by introducing an amnesty period’ during which players would be free to bring forward information about corrupt activities without being imposed with a ban. The former head of the NRL’s Integrity Unit Jim Doyle has also reportedly ‘urged the NRL to revisit its protocols around team announcements’ as the risk of inside information being passed on to gamblers is exacerbated when team announcements are made too early.

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