Senior Penrith players have urged the NRL to give lifetime bans to any fan found guilty of verbally abusing players after teammate Brent Naden was racially vilified over the weekend.
The NRL community were shocked last Friday night when Naden was heckled by eight crowd members during the Panthers versus Warriors game at Gosford.
Police removed the supporters from the ground after the Penrith back made a complaint to the sideline officials.
Naden, a proud Indigenous man from Wellington in the NSW central west, returned to training on Monday in good spirits, but teammates revealed he was rattled after the game and hardly spoke to anyone.
Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary took to social media after Friday’s game to throw his support behind his teammate and condemn the abusive fans.
Brent Naden scores against Manly. Picture: Jason McCawley/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Cleary would like to see the heaviest punishment possible handed down to any person who racially vilifies a player.
“I think so, that (bans for life) is probably the most justifiable outcome,” Cleary said.
“There should definitely be repercussions.
“I think anyone that heard what happened would just think it is ridiculous.
“There is no part for that stuff in our game, especially things about race, it is pretty disgusting.
“Just because you are a spectator doesn’t mean you are in the right to say stuff like that.
“But Brent has come into training ready to rip in, and we are all supporting him.”
Cleary also received abuse from the eight fans in Gosford, but only about his goalkicking.
“I cop it every game, so I’m not too sure,” he said.
“I don’t listen to it too much.”
Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary wants the NRL to come down hard on fans found guilty of racially abusing players. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Panthers captain James Tamou couldn’t be prouder of Naden for having the courage to stand up to the abusive fans.
“When I was that age, I would have been in my own shell,” Tamou said.
“For him to do that and speak up, I’m super proud.
“After the game we just all gathered around him. I think he did the right thing, and he is showing other people who are faced with that (abuse).
“He is leading the way there, and everyone is super proud of him for what he did.”
Tamou would like to see the NRL ban fans, but he is also open to league officials providing education for offenders and their families.
“Even people being man enough to chip your mate if you hear something like that,” he said.
“Brent is going all right, but he wasn’t himself after the game.
“He just put his headphones on, which if you know Brent he is out there and likes to have a chat.
“I didn’t want to talk to him about it (the incident), so I just kept simple.
“We will leave it in the hands of the NRL with their investigation, but it’s definitely not wanted, and it is not good to see.”
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