Coronavirus: Deputy premier wants Cleary banned for NRL season over social-distancing breach


New South Wales deputy premier John Barilaro has called for a season-long suspension for Nathan Cleary after the Penrith Panthers star breached social-distancing rules.

The NRL fined Cleary 10,000 Australian dollars – with 60 per cent suspended – and hit the Panthers half-back with a suspended one-match ban after flouting social-distancing protocol amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Cleary was photographed among a group of women at his home on Anzac Day, with house visits currently restricted – a blow to the NRL, which is set to resume the 2020 season with a 20-round campaign on May 28.

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There has been criticism over Cleary's original excuse and Barilaro hit out at the 22-year-old New South Wales star.

"There's been a lot of people saying the NRL shouldn't return. I've been a big advocate for its return, I've been working with the NRL and I put my own name against it that we can put in place the protocols and measures that actually deliver the NRL in May," Barilaro told Sky News.

"Then you get an individual like the number of players that breached, they were fined, they were dealt with.

"The issue with Cleary is that he then lied. He said it was only a small interaction but in the end the TikTok social media platform shows it was more than that.

"In my mind when you get caught out and you apologise you deserve a break, but not when you mislead the public and NRL and I think now for Cleary this should be the end of his season.

"What he has done, firstly the penalty was appropriate but to mislead and lie in his apology in my mind just sends the wrong message."

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