Greg Inglis has been suspended for the Australia rugby league team’s two-Test tour of New Zealand after being charged with mid-range drink driving, just hours after his appointment as Test captain.
Inglis had said earlier today he hoped to retain his spot in the Kangaroos team to take on the Kiwis and Tonga, but he was instead suspended by NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg and Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.
Greenberg said it was a difficult decision to suspend Inglis ,who had such an exemplary record over a long period of time.
“Greg is not just a great player, he is one of our best role models, but he made a poor decision on this occasion.
“He deserves full credit for being upfront today by apologising and taking full ownership of his mistake.
“It is a mark of the man that he has accepted responsibility for his actions and I have no doubt he will overcome this setback and retain his status as a true leader in our game.”
Inglis was charged by police in his home state of New South Wales on Monday just hours after being named the new Kangaroos skipper for Tests against New Zealand and Tonga.
Meninga said Inglis would be welcomed back into the Kangaroos by his team mates and management.
“I hope to see him back in a Kangaroos jersey next year.
“Greg has been an integral part of the team for many years and I expect him to be back.
“No one respects those values more than Greg and we look forward to him returning to the team next year.”
Australia test selector Laurie Daley said earlier today he expected the South Sydney captain to step down after consulting with Meninga.
But Inglis said he would await the outcome of an investigation by the National Rugby League.
“We’ll just wait and see over probably the next 24 hours and we’ll go from there,” the 31-year-old Indigenous Australian told reporters in Sydney.
“I’m standing here before you putting my hand up knowing that I did make a mistake. That’s the bottom line. Like I keep on saying, I’m sorry, I’m very apologetic.
“I don’t think I let my country down. I think I let a lot of people down where I stand in the game as a proud Indigenous role model, and I think I’ve let a lot of kids down.”
Inglis was stopped by police near the town of Lithgow on the way back to Sydney after attending an Indigenous rugby league competition in Dubbo on Monday.
His licence was suspended and he was due to appear in Lithgow Court in November after being charged with “mid-range” drink-driving and speeding offences, state media reported.
Daley suggested Inglis’s captaincy was untenable in the wake of the charges.
“It has to change things,” he told the Big Sports Breakfast show on Sky Sports Radio.
“Greg’s been a terrific leader for South Sydney and Queensland but I don’t think you can have the Australian captain going DUI (driving under the influence).
“I’m pretty sure Greg and Mal will come to the decision that he needs to step down as captain of his country.”
Inglis said he had spoken to Meninga and the coach had told him they would “just get through it”.
He said he had also been given support by the Rabbitohs management and would continue to captain them.
The drink-driving charge is another black eye for Australian rugby league and comes two days after the NRL Grand Final ended in controversy surrounding an injury cover-up by the victorious Sydney Roosters.
Roosters staff admitted to lying repeatedly about an injury to halfback Cooper Cronk ahead of the game against Melbourne Storm in a bid to influence their opponents’ preparations.
The deceit was slammed on Tuesday by media pundits, who demanded the NRL tighten rules on injury disclosure.
Meanwhile, The NRL Footy Show’s 25-year run on Australian television has come to an end, with the Nine Network dumping the ailing rugby league program.
Channel Nine released a statement on Tuesday confirming the show, first aired in 1994 with Paul ‘Fatty’ Vautin as host, had been cancelled.