NRL star Cameron Munster will voluntarily enter a treatment facility for the next four weeks to deal with his alcohol use. An emotional Munster addressed the media on Tuesday after he and Melbourne Storm teammates Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis were sanctioned by the NRL for their post-season antics.
Issued with breach notices alleging they brought the game into disrepute, the trio will miss the 2022 season opener and face various fines, with Munster hardest hit with a $30,000 penalty.
Warriors youngster Reece Walsh was issued with a similar breach notice after his Gold Coast arrest which has led to a drug investigation. The 19-year-old Walsh faces a two-game ban and a $5,000 fine.
Munster said he had had a “difficult relationship” with alcohol and that he needed to take further steps to deal with the issue.
“Clearly I still have some hurdles to overcome,” he said. “I made the decision, in consultation with the club doctor to seek some help with this battle. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be attending a treatment facility for the next four weeks. Hopefully you’ll see by my actions that I’m dedicated to change.”
Melbourne have put the representative playmaker on a 12-month alcohol ban.
The Storm trio, as well as Walsh, are also required to complete education and training as directed by the NRL. League boss Andrew Abdo said the players had let the rugby league community down.
“I understand that players have endured a long season under strict protocols,” he said in a statement. “However, there is no excuse for the behaviour we have seen over the past week. The players have let themselves, their clubs and the rugby league community down.
“These sanctions are designed to include an element of rehabilitation and development as well as having consequences for the individual and team.”
Two undated videos surfaced online after the Storm’s NRL finals exit. The initial vision appeared to show Munster, Smith and several other people in a room with a white substance on a table while a second video showed Munster dancing on the same table.
Storm boss Justin Rodski said his players had not admitted taking any drugs and the NRL was unable to test them given its testing policy, which covers illicit drugs, does not extend into players’ off-season.
“Through excessive consumption of alcohol and intoxication the players have limited memory of what did or didn’t take place in that hotel room,” Rodski said.
He defended the one-game bans and said the “totality of sanctions and penalties handed down across the NRL and the club were significant and serious”.
Celebrating the end of his debut NRL season, Walsh was arrested on the Gold Coast and is under investigation for drug offences. He was asked by police to move on from the nightclub strip but he returned and was arrested.
The Warriors had already announced the fullback would undergo club-instigated drug and alcohol counselling.