Nathan Cleary has sprung to the defence of winger Taylan May, saying that the fallout from an incident in Queensland last year served as a timely reminder on player behaviour.
“I felt sorry for him going through it all,” he told reporters.
“You obviously feel for your mate that has to go through stuff like that and the scrutiny around it, as we kind of touched on there’s lessons to be learned and I’ll always respect Taylan.
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“He’s a great kid and if you know him personally you’ll know that too.”
May was found guilty of assault last week after he was charged for an incident on the Sunshine Coast. He was seen coming to the aid of Cleary, who said that the victim had been causing a nuisance all night long.
“There are always going to be those kinds of people who are trying to get under your skin but that’s the life we live,” he said.
“We’ve got to deal with it the right way. Being a rugby league player is a very privileged job but it’s also a 24/7 job.”
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The incident – which took place at the Duporth Tavern on the Sunshine Coast – resulted in a small fine and compensatory payout to the victim, with the NRL handing down its own punishment on Tuesday.
Penrith’s star halfback said that it was “great” that their young winger was free to play in this Friday’s crunch game against the Eels.
“You want your best players on the park and he’s been massive for us this year,” Cleary said.
The governing body decided not to suspend May from the finals series, instead holding a two-game ban over until the start of next season.
“We’re just grateful he can line up alongside us this week,” Jarome Luai said.
The five-eighth added that it was a learning curve for all NRL players, not just May.
“We need to be careful out there, we are role models to the youngers and everyone out there, we can’t slip up.”
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