Melbourne prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona has been cleared for the first round of the 2020 NRL season by the league’s integrity unit.
The NRL and Storm have announced sanctions and disciplinary actions they will charge the star forward with, with the Kiwi international free to line up for the Storm’s opening fixture next season.
The 23-year-old has been suspended for the three upcoming Test matches, in which he was due to represent New Zealand, and handed a suspended fine of $15,000 after vision showed Asofa-Solomona throwing punches in a street brawl in Bali.
“At the time, I was worried about Suli, who had earlier been coward-punched in an unprovoked attack,” Asofa-Solomona told the club website.
“Suli is one of my closest friends and obviously I would never have reacted that way had he not been assaulted earlier inside the bar.
“The last few days have been very tough obviously, but the support I have had from the Club, the RLPA, my family, friends and the fans has been incredible.
“Looking back on this incident, could this have been handled differently? Yes, I could have picked up Suli and got out of there. Unfortunately, that is not the way this played out.
“I understand that as a Storm and NRL player, I’m a role model for kids and I want them to know that meeting violence with violence is not the solution.”
Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said the club will use this as a “learning experience.”
“We want our players to able to enjoy themselves, particularly when they are on leave and in their own private time,” Donaghy said.
“Unfortunately, our athletes seem to have become a target in this instance, as evidenced by Suli being assaulted twice by coward punches.
“I’m thankful they’re all now home, safe and well and there were no major injuries sustained to any party during the events of last weekend, where it could have led to much worse outcomes.
“Our organisation will use this as a learning experience, and we’ll address the matter with the entire playing group when they return from their leave.”