The core values of our game have taken a real hit over the past few months, so maybe we need to articulate them better to all involved with rugby league.
Last year the NRL and ARL Commission decided to make a stand and set out four principles – four core values – we should all be living and working by: (being) Disciplined, United, Positive, Inclusive.
These are the things we all should live by and be judged on if we are involved with this great game. These are the new set of beliefs that must surround us all.
Discipline covers how you act, how you behave, how you make decisions on behalf of an organisation that has given you a lifeline, a lifestyle, an opportunity to be successful.
You can't expect to be a player at the top level of our game without discipline. That means from the very basics of performing at training, to playing matches, to what you do away from the game. Discipline runs through all those.
If you don't have the discipline to prepare well, you won't have success as a player. If you don't have discipline off the field for your friends, your teammates, your family, you don't have respect and integrity.
And I don't buy the argument that social media makes the environment today much more difficult for players. Social media is the norm these days – get used to it. That's what we've got to live with and people understand that you're always only a second away of having a photo taken of you or a video.
In that accountability, there must always be the need for players to look after each other. Yes, we're all accountable for our own actions, but it's important we look after our mates and protect them as well – talk to them and help them, care about them.
The underlining factor is that as players we want to protect the game because it's important to us. We are the custodians right now for the game's future. So we need to care about the game.
I use these same core values when I select footy teams. The Test team has the RISE – Respect, Inspire, Selflessness, Excellence – concept but the game down to the grassroots level has this new set of beliefs that dictate the decisions we make and how we act.
We have some really strong education and advancement programs in our game. We are renowned and lauded for by other sports for these off-field programs about state of mind, treatment of women. We do a good job and we will keep at it.
But here we are today with players involved in legal action, or being penalised by the game for their behaviour.
So we have to stand strong. It is black-and-white, there are no grey areas here.
If you're looking at the actions of players, you have to ask are they looking after the game? Are they mindful of who they're hurting? Are they treating the game in a positive light?
Every time a player goes out, it is an opportunity to market the game. And that's the way it should be.
If players transgress, then obviously there is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
But I firmly believe the player needs to be suspended straight away, and then go through due process.