DEAL QUESTIONED: NRL women's adviser Catharine Lumby says she is 'appalled' by the decision to allow Keiran Foran back into the game.
DEAL QUESTIONED: NRL women's adviser Catharine Lumby says she is 'appalled' by the decision to allow Keiran Foran back into the game. GRANT TROUVILLE

Foran deal appals NRL's women's advisor

NRL women's adviser Catharine Lumby says she is "appalled" with the decision to allow Kieran Foran back in the game after serving what is essentially a two-match suspension.

Lumby admitted she was close to tears on Thursday over a report revealing disturbing threats Foran allegedly made to the late Daily Telegraph columnist Rebecca Wilson in her final days.

The NRL this week announced Foran had his contract registered with the New Zealand Warriors and could play in round three provided he passed a psychological assessment and adhered to a set of strict conditions.

Lumby's anger comes after Wilson, a long-time and highly respected Telegraph columnist, was posthumously awarded the lifetime achievement award for her contribution to sports journalism by the Australian Sports Commission.

When asked if the NRL had made the right call on Foran after revelations of his alleged abuse directed at Wilson, Lumby said: "No.

"Rebecca Wilson was one of the most fearless and most intelligent women who reported on sport. She deserves the highest respect."

"That she (Wilson) was abused and harassed in this manner by a football player is disgraceful. I am appalled that harsher sanctions have not been applied given that there is evidence of this behaviour.

"If the NRL wants to genuinely show leadership, which it has, in relation to the treatment of women and respect to people generally, than it needs to walk the walk, not just talk the talk."

Wilson's husband, former News Corp Australia chief executive and chairman John Hartigan revealed Foran had allegedly abused Wilson through text messages and a phone call in the days leading up to her death.

Hartigan told Fairfax Media: "That abuse caused greater hurt and pain to my wife in the last days of her life.

"It appears the NRL has given him the green light despite his behaviour.

"If they really have standards, for the sake of having a supposed star in the mix, they've dropped the flag."

Hartigan revealed police told his wife to press charges but she chose not to.

"He sent her a text first and it was just horrible," Hartigan told Fairfax Media. "She didn't get unsettled too often but this left her really distraught.

"Then he rang and started abusing her again, that's when I pulled the phone off her and I said, 'if you want to threaten someone, threaten me but don't threaten my wife'.

"She felt so distraught that she rang a contact at the police. We wanted him told that under no circumstances can he contact her with that disgusting nature of his threats.

"Bec didn't want to press charges, she just wanted him to be warned off."

Wilson was one of the first to know about Foran's breakup with partner Rebecca Pope and the impact it was having on his football career.

Asked if Foran's mental health issues should be taken into account in respect to his punishment, Lumby argued: "Yes. And I am concerned that anyone who is stating mental and personal issues, they must be dealt with off the field.

"They should be given support and the NRL provides excellent support to players who need that."

Lumby last year declared Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce shouldn't be allowed back in the NRL following his lewd Australia Day antics, that included simulating sex with a dog.

Pearce copped an eight-match and $125,000 suspension for his behaviour.

News Corp Australia


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