After his well-documented suspension for his involvement in the Cronulla Sharks’ controversial supplements program of 2011, the New South Wales Rugby League board (NSWRL) have ruled Blues captain Paul Gallen ineligible for the prestigious Brad Fittler Medal.
Gallen – who is suspended until late November – was ruled out of the running for the Dally M representative player of the year on Thursday by the NRL, and the NSWRL have taken similar steps, refusing to consider Gallen for their medal for the best New South Wales player in State of Origin.
Given how Gallen has just captained the Blues to their first victory after eight straight series wins for Queensland, this is a major blow for the Blues skipper. He was naturally expected to be the hot favourite for the award after a phenomenal series for New South Wales – but has now been told he will not be considered.
“Earlier this week we asked the NRL for guidance on the terms of Paul Gallen’s suspension,” NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said.
“We did so as we did not wish to do something which was inconsistent with the NRL’s philosophy and put Paul in a difficult position as a consequence. The NRL has come to a determination that Paul should be ineligible for awards that they control. In order to be consistent, our board feels that we should come to a similar view.
“After a board meeting this morning, it was decided that Paul would not be eligible for awards at the Brad Fittler Medal night on September 10. Paul has been a wonderful servant for NSW. He is going through a difficult period at the moment during which he has our support.
“He has been subjected to an enormous amount of scrutiny in recent times and we do not wish to add to that. I have spoken with Paul about the decision and he is understandably disappointed. We are also disappointed to be placed in this position, but we understand the stance which the NRL has taken on the issue.”
Eels full-back Jarryd Hayne is now the favourite to claim the award for an unprecedented third time, after wins in 2007 and 2009.