Paul Kent: NRL will ban Simona for life
LEADING rugby league journalist Paul Kent says Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona will be banned for life by the National Rugby League.
Kent believes gambling's impact on rugby league will be the biggest issue facing the game and it will enter the spotlight more than ever before, as early as this Friday.
It is then that Simona will meet with the National Rugby League to contest charges of match fixing.
The Wests Tigers centre was previously called to front league officials in September last year, where he denied the allegations against him. But Kent says the evidence is now weighted heavily against Simona.
"He'll be rubbed out for life on Friday," Kent said on Fox Sports NRL 360. "The NRL is in possession of evidence that he was backing opposition players to be first try-scorer in games he was playing."
"Todd Greenberg came out last year very strongly and said that anybody caught match fixing will not have a place in the game."
It's alleged Simona had associates place bets on opposition players he was marking to score the first try.
The Simona incident isn't the first time the game has been drawn into match fixing allegations. Strike Force Nuralda was created to investigate sports betting's growing grip on the game, as several NRL games were spotlighted as suspicious.
Simona is the first name to be caught in the net, but journalist Phil Rothfield says a life ban is an unfair punishment, at least until the full details emerge.
"I don't think you can give a 24-year-old kid life when we don't know the size of his bets," Rothfield said.
"It's not match fixing, he's done the wrong thing."
But Kent believes to save the integrity of the game the NRL must come down firm on Simona.
"It doesn't matter. Simona has backed the opposition. It can't get any worse," Kent replied.
"There's been a screenshot on a phone of him taking a bet."
Kent also reported in an article for The Daily Telegraph that NRL chief Greenberg has taken the unprecedented step of preventing betting companies from generating markets on areas of the game that can be potentially manipulated by match fixers - "exotic bets".
Markets such as most runs head to head, most run metres head to head, over/under run metres, over/under tackles, player versus player points, 40/20 kicks and first-scoring plays are set to be removed.
There's also a move to ban betting on Holden Cup games, where important player changes can have a huge impact on the result, and where team changes aren't as well known as in the NRL.
The bad news for the Wests Tigers continues, with news forward Kyle Lovett has been handed a four-game ban.
Lovett was also fined $15,000 for pleading guilty to drug possession.
The Tigers announced the punishment on Tuesday, with his Auckland Nines and trial suspension counting as two of the four games.
Lovett pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this month and was given a six-month good behaviour bond without a conviction being recorded.