Jennings to get normal 300-game celebration from NRL

Scott Bailey |

Michael Jennings will be afforded the same 300-game celebrations as all other NRL players.
Michael Jennings will be afforded the same 300-game celebrations as all other NRL players.

The NRL will offer Michael Jennings all the usual 300-game celebrations, if the returning Sydney Roosters centre reaches the milestone against Newcastle.

Jennings made his comeback from a three-year drug ban on Friday night against Canterbury, activated as 18th man after multiple concussions during the match.

In 2020 Jennings tested positive to steroids while playing for Parramatta, and later accepted the charge in a bid to reduce the ban from four years to three.

During his time out, Jennings was also ordered by a judge to pay nearly $500,000 in damages to his ex-wife after claims of sexual and verbal abuse in a civil case.

Jennings’ return to the NRL at the Roosters has been heavily scrutinised.

The NRL approved his train-and-trial deal at the club last November, on the proviso he met several confidential conditions.

His elevation to the top 30 and contract registration was accepted on the same basis.

It is understood those conditions largely surrounded off-field matters in relation to the civil case, where Jennings was found to have raped his wife on at least four occasions.

Jennings denied the claims in the NSW District Court, but Judge David Wilson said he believed that was either due to “memory impairment by intoxication, or giving evidence which was not truthful”.

He has not been charged over the matters, and the court’s findings did not need to be beyond reasonable doubt, as in criminal trials.

But it has created a delicate situation for the NRL this week.

AAP has been told that the NRL will afford Jennings the usual 300-match celebrations, in line with the league’s decision to approve his return.

Those usually include a presentation of the match ball by NRL chief Andrew Abdo with a commissioner in attendance, a statement recognising the player’s contribution to the game, and the 30-metre lines being replaced by 300.

Jennings is all but certain to be picked for the match against Newcastle, given fullback James Tedesco will miss through a concussion and winger Dom Young is facing a ban for a high tackle.

Centre Billy Smith is also still injured, leaving 35-year-old Jennings as the next centre in line.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said the former NSW and Australian representative was desperate to rewrite his story at the club, where he won a premiership in 2013.

“His purpose is really clear about why he plays the game now, with his family and wanting to rewrite his name in the right way and do the right thing,” Robinson said.

“He was great (against the Bulldogs). He’s been training that way and nice to see him play, to get out there and show that he’s still got gas and he’s still got effort.”