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McGuigan sidesteps Tapine controversy

COURT DATE: Joseph Tapine is the fourth Newcastle player or official charged with assault in 12 months. Picture: Jonathan CarrollNEW Knights chairman Brian McGuigan says Newcastle officials were unaware that Joseph Tapine had been charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily before the story broke this week.

But McGuigan declined to offer an opinion on Friday when asked whether Tapine, by withholding such important information, was in breach of the club’s code of conduct.

“I have got to give that question a wide berth,” he said.

“I need to get up to full bottle before I start to make any comments and take any position on various issues.”

The Newcastle Herald revealed on Wednesday that Tapine, the 20-year-old back-rower who appeared in seven NRL games last season, was charged on October 12 over an alleged incident that left a man with a broken jaw.

He will appear in Newcastle Local Court on December 9.

McGuigan said he was told of the Tapine situation on Thursday, three days after the club’s new board of directors met for the first time.

“We have had one meeting with [chief executive] Matt Gidley and his staff and he had a lot to tell us about,” he said.

“The charges that were levelled weren’t known by Matt. Matt informed us yesterday that he didn’t know the man was going to be charged.

“So I wasn’t disappointed because we have got a lot of information to share between us all, and we’ve only had one meeting so far.

“I’m sure at next week’s meeting we’ll hear about the negatives as well as the positives.”

McGuigan said it would be “inappropriate” to discuss specifics of the Tapine case because it would “perhaps have some legal implications”.

“Because he’s been charged, we’ve got to be very careful that we don’t talk about it because we don’t really know the circumstances,” he said.

McGuigan was diplomatic when asked if he believed the Knights needed to improve their image.

Tapine is the fourth Newcastle player or official to be charged with assault in the past 12 months, following Russell Packer, Ben Rogers and Zane Tetevano, who pleaded guilty on Friday in Newcastle Local Court to four counts of bashing his former girlfriend.

“As the people of the Hunter have been proud of the Knights over the years, we want to ensure that status continues, and that they continue to be proud of the Knights on and off the field,” McGuigan said.

“Whatever that takes to achieve, we want to make sure that we’re in that position.

“We want a group of people that we’re very proud of and behave properly, and make sure that the people of the district continue to be proud.”

He said it had not been resolved whether enforcing the club’s code of conduct would fall under the jurisdiction of the new board of directors.

“As you know, we’ve only got together four or five days ago and we need to work out all those relationships so that we all perform our duties.

“We want to make sure that management manages and the engine room, the players, do their job and we [the board] are up there guiding the ship and making sure the tiller is going in the right direction.”

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