We'll ban NRL betting cheats: Greenberg

Steve Zemek and Scott Bailey
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We'll ban NRL betting cheats: Greenberg

NRL boss Todd Greenberg won't hesitate to ban for life players found guilty of betting on matches.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg has received the backing of the game's senior statesmen over his vow to mete out life bans for anyone flouting gambling rules.

A tough-talking Greenberg used the NRL's season launch on Thursday to defend his administration and the game's close association with gambling after the Tim Simona saga.

Police on Thursday said they had begun investigating allegations Wests Tigers centre Simona arranged for bets to be placed on players which he was directly marking.

"Detectives from the Organised Crime Unit under Strike Force Nuralda have met with the NRL integrity unit in relation to the reported conduct of a 25-year-old player," a police spokesperson said.

Greenberg vowed to come down with the full weight of the rule book on anyone found in breach of the game's betting code.

Asked if he would hesitate to ban anyone for life, Greenberg said: "There are massive penalties in place for players that do the wrong thing and the integrity of the game is central to that.

"If and when we need to make some hard decisions, we'll make them."

Some of the game's biggest names including Cronulla talisman Paul Gallen, South Sydney star Greg Inglis and Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd all backed the NRL's hard line.

"It's pretty much black-and-white. If you play in the game you don't bet. You don't bet on any games from under-7s all the way through to the top grade. It's right there in your contract," Inglis said.

Gallen said there was no excuse for anyone found betting on games.

"I think it's pretty clear cut, you can't be betting on a game, whether it's on yourself, on another team," Gallen said.

While Boyd said the game's problems with gambling couldn't be traced back to betting companies sponsoring the game and advertisements for odds during matches.

"At the end of the day gambling is a sponsor of the game, we want to grow the game," Boyd said.

"You can sign McDonald's up as a sponsor but that doesn't mean you have to eat bad food as well."

The allegations against Simona are being investigated by Strike Force Nuralda, the same Organised Crime squad task force looking into match-fixing allegations.

Fairfax Media reported Simona allegedly organised for bets to be placed through associates.

It's alleged the bets were minor but placed on players, who Simona was marking, to score tries.

Simona, who has played 79 games for the Tigers since making his debut in 2011, has been stood down from training and playing commitments and the NRL issued him with a notice of intention to cancel his registration.

Greenberg defended the NRL's close ties to betting agencies and the prolific advertisement of odds during matches.

The NRL boss said players were well aware they couldn't bet on matches and the affair wasn't a case of the chickens coming home to roost.