New York Freedom's Tony Williams has had his contract terminated by the club for supporting ex-teammate Jarryd Hayne after his sexual assault sentence on Thursday.
The former double Dally M Player of the Year medalist was on Thursday handed a sentence of five years and nine months for sexually assaulting a woman in 2018.
Hayne on Friday initiated the appeals process for “all grounds” – meaning Hayne is appealing both the two guilty verdicts and sentence.
Embed from Getty Images
Williams played 11 of his 170 NRL games for Parramatta in 2008 and signed with the New York Freedom in March to play in the inaugural NARL, but never played a game for them.
He stood up for Hayne in an Instagram story post, criticising the justice system.
"Praying for my Tagane," he wrote.
"Before I let this be just want to congratulate the victim and the so called justice system you've sent an innocent brotherly to jail away from he's kids you bunch of flops..... that's all respectively."
But the New York Freedom got on the front foot and took a stand against Williams' comments, releasing him from his contract.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Tony Williams
We cannot control what others do, but we can control how we respond. In light of the comments made by Tony Williams, his contract with New York Freedom has been terminated.
— New York Freedom RL (@newyork_RL) May 7, 2021
Former Eels teammate and close friend Krisnan Inu, who played 78 of his 139 NRL games for the blue and gold, took a similar stance, sharing his discontent with Haynes' sentencing via Instagram.
Some people and some footy players need some serious help. I can’t believe some of the responses to the news about Hayne’s sentencing. And we wonder why women don’t report... pic.twitter.com/vQySVLfhSj
— LadiesWhoLeague (@LadiesWhoLeague) May 6, 2021
"Don't think justice was served to it's proper intent. To the so called victim. Hope you actually get the help you need, because the things that was said about my boy, wasn't what he's about. Never has, never will be.
"I'm praying you my Uso. Keep your faith strong like it has been, and let your loved ones come together to help look after your family. Love you Bula.
"And to his loving family, if there's anything youse need, I got youse."
Inu and Williams' responses sparked mass media backlash from all over the nation.
Former Wallaby and author Peter FitzSimons tweeted: "Hayne is a rapist and does not deserve public support. Players still playing catch up on how to hold each other accountable."
My column. Hayne is a rapist and does not deserve public support.
Players still playing catch up on how to hold each other accountable https://t.co/M8Hna9giMi
— Peter FitzSimons (@Peter_Fitz) May 5, 2021
Law academic at the Australian National University, Dilan Thampapillai, wrote: "It's shocking and disappointing that there are people defending Jarryd Hayne after his conviction. It's worse that there was an attempt to intimidate his victim. We have a long way to go as a society."