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Simona deregistered by NRL over betting

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/03/2017 Matt Encarnacion

Tim Simona has all but been banned for life, with the NRL deregistering the Wests Tigers' centre for placing bets on matches, including against his team winning and rival players to score.

Almost a month after standing him down from club-related activities, the governing body on Friday confirmed Simona had also kept proceeds from auctioned jerseys intended for charity.

Finally, the 26-year-old was also accused of lying to the integrity unit over two interviews this week at league central, leaving his NRL career in tatters.

"This is an extremely sad situation. Tim Simona has a serious personal problem and he has expressed some remorse," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said on Friday.

"He's worked very hard to become an elite athlete and an elite rugby league player. He has now thrown that away.

"The game will continue to care for him. He will be provided with the welfare and assistance that he needs in this very difficult time.

"But based on the evidence we've identified, it is very hard to imagine that Tim Simona will be registered with the NRL at any time in the future."

Greenberg refused to divulge specific details on the amount of bets Simona had made, except to say they were only modest wagers made over two years.

He also insisted none of the bets came off and that a third party was involved.

"We don't have evidence that he changed his performance to try and win those bets. That's certainly something the player denies, but the fact is the bets were placed," Greenberg said.

"Our integrity unit has done a very thorough look at footage as well, aligned to what the betting history has been, and clearly spoken to him as well.

"I'm not going to get into the specifics, but there are multiple bets on multiple teams and players. The bets aren't significant by any stretch - they're modest bets.

"But to be fair, that's irrelevant."

Integrity unit head Nick Weeks said Simona gave no explanation for his actions but was well aware of the implications of getting caught.

The NRL informed Simona of its decision on Friday morning.

"Tim's reaction was as you'd expect it would be. He was devastated. I'm not sure what he was expecting," Weeks said.

"But clearly, the type of news we delivered to Tim today - for a young athlete who's worked his entire life to become a professional NRL player - the news is about as bad as it gets."

Simona's rugby league career is in extreme doubt, with England's Rugby Football League indicating the door could be closed on him playing in the Super League.

The Tigers released a statement later on Friday, standing by the NRL's decision on their centre but confident the Simona saga isn't a widespread issue.

"As a club, we pride ourselves on our standards of behaviour and, after discussions with the NRL, I'm 100 per cent confident that this is isolated to Tim Simona," Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe said.

"At Wests Tigers, we are very proud of our position in the community. We will not allow the actions of an individual player to jeopardise what this club stands for and represents."

Players' union boss Ian Prendergast demanded Simona be afforded the opportunity to be given another lifeline, but only on the condition that he addressed his personal issues.

"Whether or not Tim takes that opportunity is up to him. He may not," Prendergast said.

"But we believe that possibility should be provided to him if he demonstrates commitment to genuine reform and rehabilitation."

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