While the rugby league community collectively threw their arms up at Ryan Matterson's decision to cop a three-game ban over a $4,000 fine, his teammates tell a different story.
Matterson was charged following the grand final for a crusher tackle on Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards, leaving the forward with a difficult decision to make.
The back-rower opted for the ban, having already coughed up close to $4,000 in fines throughout the season prior to the charge. While it saved the purse strings, fans took the choice as open season on the one-item New South Welshman.
However, one collective that hasn't seen red throughout the decision is his teammates, who have backed Matterson throughout the off-season, barring a few jokes here and there.
“Nah we obviously made fun of him but at the same time, no one knows what he was going through at the time when he made the decision so whatever the reason was, I'm sure it was valid for him and his family,” Parramatta five-eighth Dylan Brown told The Daily Telegraph.
“We support him either way.
“Things would have been racing through his mind (after the grand final).
“I'm pretty sure they rushed him into making a decision, which is something I personally don't agree with.”
Even the club's skipper gave the 28-year-old the tick of approval.
“Hopefully he plays well and we can all move on from it. It was after the grand final, when you don't want to be around footy … and that's the way it went. We moved on,” Clint Gutherson said.
“He's a competitor. He wants to go out there and win. I think him in the team will add a lot of confidence to the boys around him. That's what we need.”
Having started the season 0-3 after four-point losses to Melbourne, Cronulla and Manly, Matterson returns to the line-up on an edge and faces the daunting task of facing Penrith and the Roosters in his first two games back.
Funnily enough, if the Eels do lose both games to the premiership contenders, they'll have the same record they did when attempting to backflip Matterson's decision - 0-5.
They lodged an application to revisit the decision through a barrister, but it was declined.
They tried to meet with Andrew Abdo and Peter V'landys over the situation, offer declined.
They looked to meet with the judiciary chairman Geoff Bellew, application rejected.
The NRL's code is crystal clear on the subject.
“If a player, after receiving a notice of charge, elects within the meaning of Rule 57 to: (a) Plead guilty to the offence and accept the grading, he shall be allocated the ‘Early Plea' penalty for the offence provided for under the Second Schedule and, subject only to Rules 47E and 47G, the proceedings will thereby be concluded."
Matterson was believed to have had a few drinks and was coming off a concussion suffered in the decider when he made his choice, while the Eels assumed trial matches would be included, and the back-rower would miss just one match.
The 28-year-old will don the No. 12 against the Panthers, losing his lock spot to former Penrith rookie J'maine Hopgood, while fellow ex-Panther Bryce Cartwright starts on the opposite edge.