Following allegations last week that a player had been dismissed for his involvement in a jersey-selling scam, in a Triple M exclusive we can now reveal that this issue may be larger than first thought.
It is understood that another player has allegedly been involved in a similar scheme, with the club reportedly stepping in to reimburse one 20-year-old fan over $2,500 for jerseys which he purchased but never received.
A number of fans have described similar experiences of being tricked into purchasing the jerseys by first being added onto the player’s social media account and then being offered match-worn jerseys. The fans would allegedly transfer payment for the jerseys but never receive the goods.
There is a large market for match-worn gear, with several Facebook pages dedicated to the sale of the merchandise.
Whilst many current players are known to donate or auction their jerseys for charity in good faith and in the interests of promoting the public image of the NRL, it appears that a couple of players may have been working behind the scenes to undermine this good work.
It is understood that the scam involved attempts to sell jerseys which these players did not actually have, either due to the fact that they had already been sold or because they had never owned them in the first place.
This conduct has resulted in a group of aggrieved fans and a headache for the NRL, with the clubs in question being forced to reimburse anyone left out of pocket. Some fans reported receiving their first order without drama but then failing to receive any further merchandise despite handing over hundreds of dollars for each item.
One 16-year-old fan allegedly lost $200 to one of the players involved. His father told Triple M that the player called his son on his birthday, offered to go out to lunch with him and promised that he would be able to meet the player's team. Sadly, none of this happened.
"These clowns think they're bigger and better than the game," his father told Triple M.
When asked for a comment on this matter, the NRL issued Triple M with the following statement.
"Both those players have had their contracts terminated with their respective clubs. We believe that the clubs have dealt with the matters appropriately," an NRL spokesperson said.
"Any fans who have lost money are encouraged to take up the matter with the police.
"There are no contracts before us to re-register either of the players.
"The NRL would need to be convinced that the players are “fit and proper” to be part of the NRL if they were to seek to return to the game."
Therefore, whilst it appears that the NRL Integrity Unit has not completely struck out the possibility of these two players registering with clubs in the future, for now the NRL has taken swift action to ensure that the unfortunate actions of a few players do not tarnish the good works of the rest.