Players union marks 300-gamer Jennings despite NRL snub

Jasper Bruce |

Debate has raged over the marking of Michael Jennings’s 300th NRL game.
Debate has raged over the marking of Michael Jennings’s 300th NRL game.

The Rugby League Players Association has marked the achievement of Michael Jennings in the lead-up to the player’s 300th game – despite the NRL refusing to formally celebrate the Sydney Roosters centre.

The NRL announced on Monday that Jennings’s “past conduct” would preclude him from being honoured in the usual manner when he reaches 300 games against Newcastle in round six.

Jennings tested positive to performance-enhancing drugs in 2020, serving a three-year ban.

He was also found, following a civil case in the NSW District Court in 2021, to have sexually and verbally abused his ex-wife. Jennings has yet to pay Kirra Wilden the almost $500,000 in damages ordered as part of the case she brought against him.

The 35-year-old has not been subject to criminal trial and has denied Wilden’s allegations.

Ahead of his milestone match on Thursday, the RLPA recognised Jennings across its social media channels, as it does with any player reaching 200, 250 or 300 games.

“NRL Premiership winner, State of Origin player, and Australian and Tongan international Michael Jennings joins the 300 club,” an RLPA social media post read, alongside a collage of images featuring Jennings.

Current NRLW player Kirra Dibb and NRL players Kurt Capewell, James Fisher-Harris, Scott Sorensen and Zane Tetevano were among those to like the post on Instagram.

AAP understands the RLPA always intended to honour Jennings if he reached the milestone, given the NRL registered his contract when he re-joined the Roosters ahead of the 2024 season.

Jennings is a paying member of the RLPA and is entitled to milestone celebrations from the organisation as part of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and its players.

The NRL did not contact the RLPA before announcing their decision not to honour Jennings, AAP understands.

Ordinarily, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo presents a 300-gamer with the match ball in an official ceremony after their milestone game.

In the days before kick-off, the NRL usually circulates a media release offering formal congratulations to the player, while at the ground the markings for the 30-metre line are replaced with ‘300’.

The Roosters flagged their intention to mark the milestone of Jennings, a member of their 2013 premiership team, behind closed doors during the week.

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