Dragons players answered questions over the BBQ scandal last week but the responses have left some pundits more than a little angry.
The excuses from the St George Illawarra Dragons’ players who breached the NRL’s biosecurity bubble last week are starting to wear thin as the latest explanations were slammed once again.
13 Dragons players who attended a party at Paul Vaughan’s Shellharbour home have already been handed $305,000 in fines from the NRL and undisclosed penalties from the club.
Vaughan, who later saw his contact torn up, was also handed an eight-game ban, while the other 12 players received one-match bans to be taken between round 18 and round 20.
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Matt Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono and Kaide Ellis will miss Friday’s round 18 match with the Manly Sea Eagles, along with Daniel Alvaro and Zac Lomax, who still refuse to sign sworn statement about the events of the party.
Following the lead of winger Gerard Beale, who apologised on Tuesday night via an Instagram post, Dragons forwards Blake Lawrie and Josh McGuire fronted the media to share their view of the incident on Tuesday.
“We can’t sit here and cry foul – we put ourselves into a situation at the time (but) we didn’t think it would escalate to the magnitude it has,” McGuire said.
“We’re very sorry and remorseful. It was a bunch of blokes who made an honest stupid mistake and just didn’t think.
“We did understand (the rules) and can’t sit here and say we didn’t understand. We were in Shellharbour, a long way away from everything that was happening.
“The decision to go to the barbecue, everyone made. At the end of the day we didn’t think it would be a drama and we wouldn’t get caught.”
McGuire also revealed that some of his teammates were scared of being caught when the police arrived but some of the players spoke with the police.
Lawrie added that none of the players “fled” from police, but it was when they arrived that he realised they’d done the wrong thing.
“We are sorry for what we’ve done, but it’s about what we do after,” Lawrie said.
“We’re looking to learn form our mistakes and do our best for the team.
“I thought it was harmless little get-together. We are seeing now how badly it’s affected a lot of people.”
‘Gives me the ‘s***s’: Legends fire up
But the excuses have fallen flat for some, including former Sea Eagles hardman and Blues enforcer Mark Carroll.
Carroll shook his head as he watched video of the conference on Fox League’s NRL Tonight.
“After hearing that comment from Josh McGuire, excuse the French, but that gives me the s***s,” Carroll said. “Seriously, there are that many people out there that are not working at the moment that can’t work, and I’m one of them.
“The thing is they knew they made a mistake, they knew they were going to get in trouble and they kept going. The crazy thing is only one person has come out and said sorry, that was Vaughan. These other clowns have not said sorry. I can’t have any sympathy for them and it drives me crazy what they’re getting away with.”
The discussion continued on NRL 360 with Ray Hadley taking aim at McGuire.
“There’s an old quote that Mark Twain’s responsible for I believe,” Hadley began. “It goes along the lines of ‘it’s better to be silent and let people think you’re stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt’. And that’s what Josh did. Josh should have said ‘can someone else talk because I’m going to say we knew what we were doing and by crikey we’re sorry we got caught’.”
But Paul Kent disagreed, saying be believed McGuire “was owning it”.
Hadley replied, tongue in cheek: “That’s the problem with you, you’ve gone soft. In recent times, I’ve noticed you’ve gone soft. Ever since Vonny arrived, you’ve gone soft.”
Kent doubled down however.
“He came out and said ‘we thought we were going to get away with it, we didn’t’ and he’s apologised,” Kent said. “I’d rather him say that rather than ‘I don’t think we did anything wrong’.”
Hadley put the whole drama back in context, particularly after two deaths in the NSW Covid outbreak.
“We’ve got people who have passed away the past two days, a 70-year-old and a 90-year-old – 10 people can go to the funeral,” he began. “We’ve got people who can’t see their kids, their grandkids for three weeks now.
“Now we sit here, and we’re a fairly fortunate group, that we can work and do what we’re supposed to do, but there are people watching us right now who haven’t got a job, they’re not on $600,000 a year, they’re not getting any income.
“But to see privileged footballers say ‘we knew we did the wrong thing but we did it anyway’, that grates.
“I wouldn’t expect him to say ‘I’m sorry we got caught’ or words to that effect. ‘I’m sorry, we shouldn’t have done it’, would have been the end of it.”
‘Stupid’ Dragons scandal excuses savaged