SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05: Paul Gallen of the Sharks looks dejected after defeat in the round 21 NRL match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Manly Sea Eagles at Southern Cross Group Stadium on August 5, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Peter Sterling and Erin Molan have harshly condemned the “stupidity and entitlement” of NRL stars caught breaching government restrictions this week.

Last week, Nathan Cleary, Latrell Mitchell and Josh Addo-Carr were publicly exposed flaunting social distancing protocols.

Sterling and Molan clashed with Brad Fittler and Paul Gallen on The Sunday Footy Show over the severity of the breaches and the punishments handed down to the offending players.

The NRL have defended their decision to not administer bans for the indiscretions.

Interim CEO Andrew Abdo issued $48,000 worth of fines in response to the incidents, but insisted players deserved another chance before being suspended for games.

On The Sunday Footy Show, the panelists locked horns over the punishments handed down, with Molan and Sterling dismissing Fittler and Gallen’s claims the fines were sufficient.

“What’s distasteful, the thing that people don’t like is the sense of entitlement. It’s almost we’re all in this together, except us,” Sterling said.

The discussion then became increasingly heated, with the panelists even clashing over whether the players put lives at risk with their actions.

Gallen: “But Sterlo can you understand the sense of entitlement, we have the NRL and Peter V’landys going out and doing something that no one else is allowed to do. The NRL is about to come back to play which no one else is allowed to do.”

Sterling: “The players can’t transfer that onto individually that ‘well we can do things differently because our boss is trying to do something different’”.

Gallen: “I just think it encases it all into one situation. It’s stupidity of what they’ve done and I think it’s a line in the sand moment and I’ve said that.”

Sterling: “How many lines in the sand do we need Gal?”

Gallen: “This is it, this is the line in the sand moment, it’s here.”

Molan: “Do you think after two or three months, I don’t care if you don’t watch the news or if you don’t read newspapers, there is nobody in Australia that does not understand what was required of them? There is nobody that doesn’t understand that.”

Gallen: “It was stupid and idiotic and they’ve been punished accordingly for it, what else do we want to see?”

Molan: “So suspensions, you don’t think they should be?”

Gallen: “I don’t think they should be because that punishes the club. I think the hardest place to hit a bloke is in the back pocket and I honestly believe that.

Fittler: “I felt the punishment was appropriate because what they did do, they didn’t react to the media or to what other people thought. Now Gus (Phil Gould) came out and said they should be gone for the year, I like the fact that it looked like the league was actually sticking up for the players and clubs.

“They said to the players you’ve been stupid, you’re putting us all under a lot of pressure, but what we’re going to do is support you here. But if anyone else does it, it’s going to be a totally different fine, which I feel like that was appropriate for the situation.”

Sterling: “This stupidity and entitlement is at a time like no other, like no other. There’s so much more at stake now than what has ever been when we’ve had player misbehaviour. That to me adds to the magnitude of the penalties and the offence because it is putting peoples lives at risk. The people who were on the property up there, we don’t know who they had been around and if you infect three other people it infects more and more.

“There’s so much more at risk in this present day, we can’t be talking about misbehaviour in the past because we’ve never been in this situation before.”

Fittler: “I don’t think what they did was, I don’t think it put lives at risk really. Given the numbers and all that if you’re sitting down and the reality of what they actually did, I don’t think it put lives at risk. But I do think as unbelievably stupid and what they didn’t realise was they could be the face of a game losing $200 million.

Molan: “I think individually you’re saying they’re not really putting lives at risk, but if more and more people do it. You look at London and New York, there is a reason why Australia has a death toll that’s around 100 and why we are so incredibly blessed is because almost everyone is doing the right thing.

“All it takes is for a few people not to do the right thing. We are human beings and the virus is the same virus all over the world, we’re all the same humans and we can be impacted like everywhere else. There’s a reason we’re not and that is because most people are doing the right thing.”