No need for other Sharks to go public over sex scandal
Friday 15 May 2009
Players involved in the group sex scandal involving Matthew Johns should not feel obligated to come forward, according to Preston Campbell, a member of the 2002 Cronulla NRL tour squad to New Zealand.
The former Sharks playmaker - who now plays for Gold Coast Titans - said he could see no good coming from others owning up to participating in the incident, which occurred in a Christchurch hotel seven years ago.
"I don't think so. I don't think it is going to help the matter at all," Campbell told reporters on the Gold Coast on Friday.
"Whether it is going to help Matty at all, I don't know.
"It is totally up to them to come forward. But I am not sure whether they have to."
It flies in the face of public opinion following ABC TV's explosive Four Corners report aired on Monday night.
The other players who took part in the incident have been called "cowards" and Cronulla chairman Barry Pierce has called for them to follow Johns' example by apologising.
Campbell, Brett Kimmorley, David Peachey, Colin Best, Nick Graham and Paul Mellor have all given assurances they were not involved in the while current Sharks captain Paul Gallen said he arrived in the room after the incident.
Only Johns and halfback Brett Firman have been named as participants in the incident.
Rugby league commentator Phil Gould gave an emotional plea on Nine Network's The Footy Show on Thursday night for the other players to come forward so Johns would not "wear the brunt of this attack".
The high-profile Johns has had his lucrative television career put on hold since being named and shamed in the Four Corners program.
"You see the state of what's happening with Matty Johns, it's very unfortunate," Campbell said.
"Matty Johns is a top bloke, a great person."
Asked whether Johns may have to "carry the can" over the incident, Campbell said: "He's the sort of person who probably will.
"He's not going to name names."
Another who felt sympathy for Johns was the former boss of the woman at the centre of the scandal.
"It's all a big bloody mess, if you ask me," said Keith Burgess, the woman's manager at the Racecourse Hotel in Christchurch, where the incident occurred.
"I've got to say I also feel very sorry for Matthew Johns and the other boys, too.
"It must be one hell of a time for them."
Burgess said the woman, who had worked for him for some time, was a good, hardworking employee.
"I didn't know anything about her private life, but she's the last person you'd ever expect to be involved in this type of thing," he told AAP.
"She was a decent, stable type with her head screwed on."
Meanwhile, Federal Sports Minister Kate Ellis said on Friday more women involved in senior sporting roles would help foster greater respect for females.
And the executive director of 147 Catholic schools in the Sydney archdiocese, Dr Dan White, said on Friday their schools would consider breaking ties with the sport if the NRL failed to change attitudes towards women.
The Australian Rugby League (ARL) later issued a release, pushing the sport's "positive impact" at junior and school level.
The ARL also claimed they had received "strong messages of support" from school principals during the scandal.
Cronulla High School principal Tony Ibrahim said in the statement that they had not considered banning NRL players from visiting.
"There are a lot of double standards in saying players should be banned from coming to schools - stereotyping and tarnishing all players with what occurred I think is wrong," he said.
This story was sourced from The New Zealand Herald.
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