NRL players James Roberts and Will Smith are hoping their trip to a boxing match has taught them how to trade blows with the big boys, and has not only earned them a nomination for The Frownlow Medal.
Roberts and Smith breached bio-security protocols and will soon realise that that’s not going to be enough to win the medal when this year’s favourites have been accused, or found guilty, of sexual assault, as well as stabbing someone, common assault and a good old pub brawl.
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. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
Roberts and Smith face potential sanctions from the NRL for a bio-security breach while attending the recent fight between Tim Tszyu and Dennis Hogan in Newcastle. Neither player wore a mask despite being told by the NRL that all players and staff must wear masks at public venues.
Roberts really should know better. He earned Frownlow nominations in 2016, 2017 and 2019, for incidents such as public drunkenness and alcohol abuse, accusations of harassing a female bartender and pulling another woman’s hair, fighting with security and using up many ‘last’ chances. All of these actions are far more likely to convince Frownlow judges than failing to wear a mask while watching two grown men beat the frownlow out of each other. Smith, meanwhile, receives his first nomination.
Roberts also earned his fourth ticket to the awards night for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame, where he and Smith can party all night without a mask, or consequences.