SYDNEY (AP) — North Queensland Cowboys halfback Robert Lui was suspended for the remainder of the National Rugby League season on Wednesday after pleading guilty to the assault of his partner last year.
The Australian Rugby League Commission also suspended Cronulla Sharks player Isaac Gordon for nine matches after he was charged over a domestic violence incident.
ARLC chief executive David Gallop said the game's administration and the clubs involved had made a "clear statement about the need to prevent violence against women."
At Wednesday's meeting, the Cowboys outlined a counseling program that will assist Lui's partner, Tahleah, his son and Lui in the coming months.
The 22-year-old Lui pleaded guilty in March to assaulting Tahleah Rae Backo following end-of-season celebrations in September while he was playing with the Sydney-based Wests Tigers.
He was subsequently suspended then released by the Tigers and picked up by North Queensland.
The suspensions follow an Internet campaign launched last week by Brisbane father of two, Tony Simpson, calling on the NRL to impose a minimum one-year ban for players found guilty of violent behavior toward women.
The NRL's three biggest sponsors subsequently had their websites bombarded with demands that they withdraw their sponsorships unless the NRL took a tougher stand on violence against women by their players.
"There is a need to send a strong message to the community and, as the first sport to make such an emphatic statement, we would encourage others to follow rugby league's lead in the future," Gallop said in a statement.
The NRL will play its seventh of 26 regular-season rounds this weekend.