The Gold Coast Titans have fined both Greg Bird and James Roberts for separate off-field incidents following a review by the club’s board. Additionally, Bird has been stripped of his co-captaincy role for the 2015 season.
Bird,30, was punished for urinating in public following his wedding in Byron Bay recently, and he has been fined $15,000. Roberts, 21, was arrested by police in October, but charges of public nuisance were dropped and he has been fined $3000.
After a disappointing 2014 campaign in which the club finished in 14th position, CEO Graham Annesley expressed his disappointment, at a time when the club is searching for a major sponsor.
“Whilst the circumstances of these incidents are serious enough alone to warrant club imposed sanctions, the details pale into insignificance compared to the damage done to the club’s standing in the community at a time when the Board and management are doing everything possible to rebuild the Titans brand and ensure the long-term sustainability of the club” he told the Titans’ website.
“All players need to accept personal responsibility for their actions and recognise that incidents of this nature not only damage the reputation and commercial prospects of the club, but also bring the image of the NRL and the game of Rugby League into substantial disrepute.”
“We can’t be with these players 24/7 baby-sitting them every step of the way. People have to take personal responsibility for their own actions. I have to do it, you have to do it, players have to do it and hopefully this sends a message that if they can’t take personal responsibility for their actions they’ll be held accountable for them,” he added.
Both players have been involved in a number of off-field incidents throughout their careers.
In 2004, Bird kneed South Sydney Rabbitohs winger Shane Marteene in the head, resulting in a 10-game suspension, and in 2008 he was charged with causing grievous bodily harm to his girlfriend Katie Milligan, which prevented him from taking up a deal with the Bradford Bulls for 2009. The charges were later dropped.
The immensely talented Roberts was released by the Rabbitohs in 2012 for breaching his playing contract and after signing a 2-year deal with the Penrith Panthers, he was released in 2014 after reportedly smashing a taxi window during the off-season.