While it may be one of the most popular sports in the country, stories relating to the NRL aren't detailing its successes – instead, the media is drowning in reports of sexual assault allegations against some team's biggest players.
But is the NRL doing enough to protect women from sexual assault or domestic violence?
2018: The year of highs and lows
While the NRL celebrated its 110th year as a professional sport in Australia and the Sydney Roosters took the coveted premiership title, 2018 wasn't all high points within the sport. In what pundits are referring to as an 'off-season', five NRL players face charges of sexual assault and domestic violence in 2018.
Those accused of indecent behaviour include former Parramatta Eels superstar Jarryd Haynes. In early December, Haynes went to court after being accused of serious sexual assault on a woman in the Hunter Valley two months prior.
Along with Haynes, St George Illawarra Dragons star Jack de Belin has handed himself into police for questioning over an alleged aggravated sexual assault.
The remaining three include Manly Sea Eagles' Dylan Walker who was charged with common assault against his fiance in their home, Penrith reserve-grade halfback Liam Coleman and Wests Tigers player Zane Musgrove.
Speaking up about shocking revelations
Those appalled by recent revelations includes wife of former Melbourne Storm star Ryan Hoffman. Mel Hoffman published an article revealing her opinions on the matter and her first-hand experience with the NRL and its players. Within the piece, Hoffman shares her disgust about the matter and explains that just because they are high-profile players in the public eye, they should not be excused for this behaviour.
"Let me just say that again: it is someone's job to sit down with groups of fully functioning adult human beings and make sure they understand that it is wrong to hurt women."
But is enough being done to prevent future instances?
What is the NRL doing to stop sexual assault?
From domestic violence organisations to former team captains, the NRL is being pushed by many to change its culture. As such, the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) revealed plans to undertake an audit into how clubs combat the issue of sexual assault. The report will be made available in 2019, with people hoping it will help crack down on this increasing problem and appropriately punish those responsible.
In all cases, sexual assault is never okay. This is why we work so hard to ensure victims receive justice and compensation for their trauma. If you're a victim of sexual assault, please do not hesitate getting in touch with an expert lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners today, to see how we can help.