‘The sport’s being challenged by the underworld’: Disturbing NRL allegations

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Which club faces the chop? Which Sydney club fancies a move to Brisbane? Photo: NRL

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg has said he is “pleased” after an extensive police investigation into match-fixing within the sport saw no charges laid – even if evidence of a range of unsavoury incidents was found.

A two-year long investigation by New South Wales Police – dubbed Strike Force Nuralda – uncovered evidence of insider betting, where players and officials allegedly passed on secret information to gamblers, police said.

Investigators said while they found evidence of suspicious betting behaviour, no-one has been, or will be, prosecuted, and it is understood police will not seek to lay charges because the alleged offences date back to 2015.

That means they fall outside the six-month statutory limitation on insider gambling offences.

In a statement, detectives from the NSW Organised Crime Squad said they also uncovered a number of potential criminal offences including drug supply and money laundering, which are not connected to the NRL.

“I’m pleased that despite a very extensive investigation, there are no charges,” Greenberg told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

“When allegations like this surface, either through the media or the public domain, we’re very keen to make sure they are tested.

“This investigation will hold us in good stead.”

The Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that a police document alleged patterns of crime figures supplying drugs and prostitutes to rugby league players in the hope of gaining inside information.

At a press conference, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook said there was “no doubt there was inside information being exchanged – about players who were playing, injuries, who was feeling good, who was feeling bad, that sort of thing”.

“It’s highlighted some issues that are fundamental,” he added.

“It gives us an opportunity to talk to the NRL and other organisations about organised crime.”

Det Supt Cook also stated police officers had “seen players who have debts greater than the value of their contracts.”

Greenberg said “an enormous number of lessons” could be taken from the report.

“A lot of these challenges flow across our community and all sports, but we won’t get complacent,” he said.

“Not for one minute do you think that they we don’t have lessons to learn but at the end of this, there’s no charges, and that’s important,” he said.

He later added: “Players and officials inside rugby league, and in fact, all sports, need to be very conscious of the company they keep … they need to make good choices.

“We do not want to see the game’s reputation tarnished by poor choices.”

Greenberg was insistent that the fact no charges had been laid was significant, though, repeating it several times through his press conference.

“The police have put an extraordinary amount of work on this and they’ve come up with no charges,” he said.

“The sport’s being challenged by [the] underworld, and it’s up to us to ensure we have the best practices.”

The NSW Police Organised Crime Squad began examining the alleged influence of organised crime groups on match fixing within the NRL in October 2015.

Police have since conducted 59 search warrants and seized 46,000 pages of documents and more than 1000 pages of telephone data.

Detectives spoke to more than 150 witnesses, including players, referees, club officials and professional punters and identified 13 persons of interest through their investigation.

Strike Force Nuralda has now stopped operations.

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