A young rugby league player has been banned for life after an alleged stabbing at a game in western Sydney.
The Daily Telegraph first reported 19-year-old Ratu Nanovo was one of three players slapped with a lifetime ban by the NSW Rugby League (NSWRL) for his alleged involvement in an ugly incident between Penrith Brothers and Wentworthville Magpies earlier this month.
Nanovo was arrested and charged with three counts of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The charge carries a maximum 25 years in prison.
Police allege the former Australian Schoolboys star, who was previously involved in the Penrith Panthers system, went to a car and got a knife, which he hid in his shorts, after the under-20s match in North Parramatta.
It is alleged he then stabbed three males — a 19-year-old Magpies player and two spectators, 16 and 22 — after a fight broke out in the carpark.
Brothers player Bradley Wayne Middlebrook was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm while in company and affray over the incident.
He was refused bail at Penrith Local Court earlier this month and will next appear in court in October. Middlebrook was also handed a life ban by the NSWRL.
“Three players have been issued with breach notices for serious Code of Conduct offences,” a NSWRL spokesperson told news.com.au.
“The charges allege a breach of both the NRL Code of Conduct and the NSWRL Code Conduct by way of assaulting or acting with aggression towards another person and also behaving in a way which is contrary to the Code of Conduct and the spirit of the game.
“The Adjudicated Penalty (which can be contested at a hearing) is a lifetime ban from participating in or attending Community Rugby League matches.
“Two of the three players have been charged criminally and their Code of Conduct hearings are unlikely to take place until after the criminal proceedings have been concluded.
“All three players are suspended until the Code of Conduct hearings are concluded.”
New South Wales Rugby League Chief Executive David Trodden said: “The NSWRL has a zero tolerance for any behaviour which threatens the safety of participants, officials and spectators involved in junior sport who should be able to expect to play and/or attend and enjoy community sport without any concerns or fears.
“We make no apology for taking a strong stance and issuing breach notices for life bans for those involved in this sickening incident.”
Police believe the alleged stabbing was spurred on by an on-field incident. Superintendent Daryl Jobson told reporters earlier this month the match became heated after a shoulder charge led to Middlebrook being sent off the field.
“It would appear as though tensions have gone off field in this incident,” he said.
Police allege a fight erupted between two players at the end of the game before three males were stabbed with a 15cm kitchen knife in a “brutal” attack.