Johns hammers 'ridiculous' Roberts punishment

1 month ago 17
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Rugby league Immortal Andrew Johns has criticised the NRL's decision to fine and suspend James Roberts, saying it shows a lack of empathy for the Tigers player's history of mental health issues.

"I just find it ridiculous," Johns said on Wide World of Sports' Immortal Behaviour.

James Roberts on the attack for Wests Tigers. (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

"People know the history of James Roberts, he's been in rehabilitiation a few times for mental illness. By all accounts, James had a really, really tough upbringing - so you can imagine away from his support group, his teammates, his friends, his family, how much he would be struggling in that room all by himself."

Roberts was fined $7500 and suspended for one game for breaking the rules of his hotel quarantine, which instructed players and their families who were quarantining that they had to stay inside, and not use the balcony.

Johns said the balcony ban, which was eventually lifted yesterday, was 'inhumane'.

"I can't imagine the situation, or how he feels," Johns said.

"So for him to go out on the balcony and get some fresh air and some sun, and for him to be publicly shamed all over the press, I just feel so sorry for him."

Roberts has made no secret of his mental health demons, revealing at the start of this season that he considered walking away from rugby league amid an emotional 2020 campaign.

Johns pointed to international sport, citing two recent examples as much better ways to support those who need it.

Andrew Johns (Getty)

"Every case isn't black and white. James, as I said, has a history of mental illness. You look at [Simone Biles], she pulled out of an event because of mental illness and she was supported - Naomi Osaka the tennis player, same thing.

"James goes out on the balcony to get some sunlight because he's obviously bouncing off the walls, and there is people hiding in bushes taking photos of him.

"What has happened to this country?"

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