By MELTON PAIS
AGMARK Gurias’ Ezra Gotuno has backed Junior Rau, who on Tuesday, called his 10-year ban by the Papua New Guinea National Rugby League harsh.
Gotuno said he thought the ban was done without taking into account what Rau was trying to do when he ran to help defend him and his Gurias teammates after Eagles fans invaded the Sir John Guise Stadium field after the Digicel Cup preliminary final on Saturday, Aug 27.
“I was in trouble when those fans started running towards me and if it wasn’t for Junior than I could’ve been hurt badly,” Gotuno said.
“I wasn’t the only one Junior tried to defend he even tried to help Adrian Baungas (No.16) before coming to me.
“We’re actually surprised Junior got 10 years.”
Gotuno said he was willing to go on record with the PNGNRL if needed to clear Rau.
Port Moresby Vipers operations manager Paul Komboi shared Gotuno’s concern saying the banned and fined players could go to court.
While he agreed that the Eagles franchise (three year ban) and trainer Stanley Akinu (life ban) deserved their sanctions he was not sure Rau and the four Gurias, who were fined K5000 each and given five match bans, deserved to be penalised as harshly as they had been this week.
“The bans on the Eagles club and trainer Stanley Akinu are right. It will serve as a deterrent to other clubs,” Kamboi said.
“The players, however, should have been given a chance to contest the charges before the decisions were handed down.
“Now that they have taken this action they have left themselves open to possible legal action.”
Komboi said in the Australian NRL after a player was charged with an offence the player and his club were always given the opportunity to contest the charge but that had not been done here.”
The players and the clubs have 14 working days as of Monday to lodge their appeals with the PNGNRL board.
They will have to pay a K5000 appeal fee for each ban/fine.
PNGNRL chief executive officer Stanley Hondina confirmed during the week that none of the players had been interviewed before the board met to decide on the appropriate penalties.
By MELTON PAIS