Photo: Getty Images
Parramatta's Kenny Edwards has been suspended for the first seven games of the NRL season after pleading guilty to domestic violence-related assault charges earlier this week.
The Eels, in consultation with the NRL, also slapped him with a hefty $60,000 fine after he admitted to spraying his ex-partner with water and pouring alcohol over her last December.
The 27-year-old back-rower will still be able to train with the team, but will be unable to play NRL or reserve grade until the Eels' round-eight home clash with Penrith in April.
Edwards' suspension marks his second in the past three years at the club for off-field incidents, after he missed the entire 2015 season for taking a drug test for teammate Kaysa Pritchard.
At the time, he was warned by the NRL that any further problems could see him deregistered, however his future was spared on Friday.
"Any reasonable analysis requires recognition of the fact that Kenny has prior incidents in his rugby league career," Parramatta chief executive Bernie Gurr said.
"This history has been continually emphasised in discussions with the NRL.
"It is also fair and balanced to point out that Kenny is a respected member of our playing squad and regularly contributes to the community activities of our club."
Edwards' suspension is a huge blow to the Eels, given the impact he had on return to playing last year.
In an otherwise tumultuous season for Parramatta, Edwards played every game and broke through 72 tackles as his powerful running style often tested the opposition's defence.
"Our club has been weakened by not having Kenny available to play," Gurr said.
Edwards' form earned him a new deal last August through to the end of 2019, however he will now have his fine deducted from that over the next two years.
"This fine will be deducted from Kenny's NRL playing contract over the 2017 & 2018 seasons so as to ensure Kenny and his family have sufficient support," Gurr said.
"Our club has, through our club's welfare staff, supported both Kenny's ex-partner and Kenny by arranging counselling and providing general support.
"As noted by the court, Kenny has and continues to provide significant financial support for his entire family."
Edwards must also engage in NRL-supported counselling as a result of the matter, after he pled guilty to common assault in Parramatta Local Court on Monday in relation to the charges.
He was handed a six-month good behaviour bond, but no conviction, for the incident.
Eels Official Statement
Photo: Getty Images
The Parramatta National Rugby League Club Pty Limited (the “Club”) has reviewed the legal situation of Kenny Edwards. Based on an incident on 11 December 2016, Kenny Edwards was charged with “common assault domestic violence”.
We think it is important to provide relevant facts and some context around this situation, as there are many factors to be considered. Throughout this process, we have had meaningful dialogue with the National Rugby League (NRL) Integrity Unit, the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) and Mr Chris Orr, Kenny’s manager.
The summary facts are as follows:
During the course of an argument between Kenny and his ex-partner, Kenny sprayed water from a water bottle onto her face and body. Kenny returned a short time later and, whilst still arguing, poured the contents of a raspberry vodka cruiser bottle over the complainant and the bed.
Kenny’s lawyer and the senior prosecutor agreed to a guilty plea, whereby Kenny plead guilty to common assault under Section 10 and no conviction was recorded, with a good behaviour bond for 6 months.
Since the time of the incident, our Club has, through our Club’s welfare staff, supported both Kenny’s ex-partner and Kenny by arranging counselling and providing general support. As noted by the court, Kenny has and continues to provide significant financial support for his entire family.
Any reasonable analysis requires recognition of the fact that Kenny has prior incidents in his Rugby League career. This history has been continually emphasised in discussions with the NRL; the NRL had, following the 2015 incident, warned Kenny that, as a repeat offender, he would be looking at possible de-registration by the NRL if he committed any further conduct that bought the game into disrepute.
It is also fair and balanced to point out that Kenny is a respected member of our playing squad and regularly contributes to the community activities of our Club.
It is our Club’s belief that we have a strong “duty of care” to our players. We have 3 full-time welfare and leadership staff dedicated to our Players. The welfare programs in place at our Club are excellent.
In summary, our Club needs to:
· show support to Kenny and his family from a rehabilitative perspective – he is part of our Parramatta Eels family; and
· exercise fair and reasonable discipline in order to reinforce to Kenny that we all need to take personal responsibility for our actions and behave to certain standards in accordance with our Club values of Integrity, Respect and Excellence.
This balance can be difficult, particularly considering all the factors and circumstances in this situation. Our Coaching & Recruitment Staff have planned our playing roster with Kenny included as an important Player in that roster; our Club has been weakened by not having Kenny available to play and, understandably, our Club and fans are disadvantaged.
The Club is of the opinion that Kenny has acted in breach of his National Rugby League Playing Contract (which covers the 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019 NRL seasons). Under this Contract, the Club is permitted to take action including, but not limited to, caution, reprimand, a fine, suspension or termination.
After much deliberation, our Club and the NRL have agreed on the following action:
1. Suspend Kenny Edwards for the following matches:
· The first seven (7) matches of the Club in the 2017 NRL season.
Kenny Edwards will not be permitted to play in the Club’s NSWRL Cup team during this period but will be allowed to train with the NRL and NSWRL Cup squads.
2. Fine Kenny Edwards an amount of $60,000. This fine will be deducted from Kenny’s NRL Playing Contract over the 2017 & 2018 seasons so as to ensure Kenny and his family have sufficient support.
We will also ensure Kenny engages in appropriate counselling, as sanctioned by the NRL, and also have him continue to perform community service, as directed by the Club.
Kenny’s manager, Mr Chris Orr, has been involved in the discussions around this case and Kenny and Mr Orr have accepted the above action by the Club and the NRL.