Under-fire Manly star Addin Fonua-Blake has broken his silence over an alleged second tirade launched at referee Grant Atkins after his side’s heated loss to the Knights on Sunday.
Fonua-Blake has been sidelined for two weeks after pleading guilty to a grade-three contrary conduct charge for calling Atkins a “f—ing retard’ when he was sent from the field after the full-time whistle, but now faces further criticism over a second outburst.
According to 2GB’s Ray Hadley who sourced a copy of the official referee’s report, Fonua-Blake said “Are your eyes f—— painted on you bunch of spastics” to Atkins as they crossed paths again in the players’ tunnel.
However, speaking to Nine’s chief rugby league reporter Danny Weidler the Manly forward broke his silence over the development, claiming his second outburst was not directed at the referees.
“I wasn’t aware that the refs were in the tunnels, and they must have heard me say what I said in the sheds,” Fonua-Blake told 9News.
“But I didn’t say it directly to their face, it was just sort of me venting out loud in the sheds.”
The 24-year-old also claimed he didn’t fully understand how hurtful the use of certain words could be.
“Growing up I sort of used the word differently, not knowing what it actually meant,” he said.
“Now that I know what it actually means, I’m very apologetic. I did not mean any harm and I didn’t mean to use it in a derogatory way to offend anyone.”
Manly blow up over last ditch controversy
Fonua-Blake’s explanation comes as NRL Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo determined that Manly star breached the game’s Anti-Vilification Code.
“What happened on Sunday was divisive and against the fabric of what we stand for as a game,” he said.
“There is no place for comments like that in our game. Sport is about bringing people and communities together and we pride ourselves on being an inclusive game for everyone.
“Now that the Match Review process is complete, I want to speak directly with Addin and the Club about the incidents before determining any penalty.
“This is more than a simple sanction. It’s important there is an education and rehabilitation component to issues like this to ensure players learn from these mistakes and realise the impact of their actions on the community.”
It’s yet to be seen what further sanction or requirements could be placed on the Manly star.