The NSWRL has hit back after explosive claims from former Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold in Sunday’s night’s 60 minutes that the person behind his infamous trolling was “an employee of the NSW Rugby League”.
Seibold was the coach of the Broncos throughout the club’s disastrous 2020 season until he stepped down in August.
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But prior to his departure from the Broncos, the 46-year-old was subjected to salacious rumours during his final months with the club, which were generated and distributed by internet trolls on social media sites.
Seibold was forced to contact police and hire cybercrime investigators in the hope of exposing the culprits who fabricated the “disgusting” rumours.
Seibold and Erin Molan were two of the names in the 60 Minutes story on Channel 9 talking about the impact of the trolling on himself and his loved ones.
“It’s been hurtful to myself. It’s been hurtful to others. It’s been hurtful to people close to me,” Seibold said.
“It’s been pretty tough, particularly the last couple of months. In some ways it’s like the Wild West out there.
“My situation went viral on social media … my reputation was ruined in a lot of respects.
“The very last message on social media was the one that probably upset me the most, because it spoke about my daughter.
“It was hard for everyone to see those messages … they obviously want to hurt myself and the others who were named in some way, shape or form.
“I went through some pretty dark times a few weeks back, because the amount of hate and defamatory comments that was spread. And people were happy to spread. It was crazy really. And that’s not the Australia that I grew up in.”
Seibold confirmed it was “someone who makes a living from our game” with the report alleging it was “an employee of New South Wales Rugby League”.
But NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said the first time the allegations had been heard were during the Sunday night airing of the interview.
The statement said the organisation was “disappointed that the allegations were aired without anyone from the NRL Integrity Unit, NSW Police, Sixty Minutes or Seibold contacting NSWRL to discuss the matter beforehand”.
“I have had the opportunity today to have a number of conversations with various representatives of the NRL and Anthony Seibold,” Trodden said in a statement.
“While the various parties are unable to provide the identity of the person involved because of ongoing police investigations, I am confident that the person is not a full-time employee of NSWRL.
“Trolling is appalling … and action should be taken if it is properly proven. It should never be tolerated and we feel for Anthony Seibold and his family for what he has been put through.
“Equally, it is really important for me, as CEO of NSWRL, to make it clear that none of our full-time employees are involved in the alleged behaviour and it’s also important that our reputation is not unfairly tarnished.”
Two weeks before he stepped down from his role at Red Hill, Seibold intentionally broke the NRL’s strict biosecurity by leaving the club’s bubble to attend to a serious family matter.
After it became public Seibold was launching an investigation, the alleged online trolls quickly erased their digital profiles.
“80 per cent of the messages that were on social media platforms came down straight away. It obviously put a bit of a scare across a lot of the people who were sharing the different messages,” Seibold said.
“They’re pretty weak.
“I’ve got quite a few names … so I’d like to see some people made accountable, that’s for sure.”