Vai Toutai allegedly glassed a bikie at a bar recently and in doing so became the third Parramatta player to be nominated for The Frownlow Medal – and the 2017 NRL season is still months from starting.
Toutai squared up to a member of the Rebels bikie gang and the ensuing scuffle resulted in a police investigation and the end of the winger’s NRL contract.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. Kiwi international and Sydney Roosters player Shaun Kenny Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while Corey Norman from the Parramatta Eels won in 2016.
The bikie involved apparently refused to let police deal with the incident, so Toutai might have to worry about more than just the end of his NRL career. It might be time for him to join fellow Frownlow nominees in England.
The Eels have taken something of a mortgage on the Frownlow Medal recently, with Norman’s victory in 2016 and the nominations of Semi Radradra and Kenny Edwards, who have both been charged with domestic violence.
Another Eel, and friend of Toutai, Junior Paulo, was also nominated in 2016 for appearing in photos on social media with known criminals.
Imagine what might have happened if Kieran Foran had stayed at the club.
The 2017 Frownlow Medallist will be announced in October.
First published in January 2017.