Lui NRL ban 'not easy': ARLC boss
Laine Clark
18:01 AEST Thu Aug 16 2012
North Queensland Cowboys player Robert Lui.
The ARLC's boss admits rejecting North Queensland's plea to lift Robert Lui's NRL ban was not easy.

ARL Commission interim boss Shane Mattiske says rejecting North Queensland's bid to lift Robert Lui's NRL ban was "not an easy decision".

But Mattiske has dismissed speculation Lui faced another sideline stint next year, saying the playmaker is free to play in 2013 including the pre-season trials.

After stating Lui's case in Sydney, the Cowboys were left reeling last week when the ARLC opted to keep the halfback sidelined.

Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain was fuming and reportedly considered legal action after sharing with the ARLC a psychologist's report that claimed playing football would aid Lui's rehabilitation.

"The players are the No.1 asset of this game and the Commission does not appear to have recognised that with this decision," Jourdain said.

Lui was banned after being placed on a two-year good behaviour bond and fined $2000 in April for assaulting his girlfriend Taleah Backo after the Wests Tigers' Mad Monday drinks last year.

"These decisions are never easy," Mattiske told AAP in Brisbane on Thursday.

"Clearly, there was a lot of thought put in between the Cowboys and the game originally in terms of the suspension put in place.

"These issues are delicate.

"Making the decision, we certainly balanced the views of the player and the people working around Robert.

"But we also balanced that against the reasons why that original suspension was put in place - that's not an easy decision."

The ARLC's ruling sparked speculation Lui might have to wait several rounds into the 2013 season to play again but Mattiske was quick to dismiss this.

"It was a season-long ban, put in place for 2012. He is free to play next year and that includes pre-season trials," he said.

Meanwhile, Mattiske said there had been no formal contact yet from any NRL club regarding returning star Sonny Bill Williams.

Williams controversially left Canterbury to play rugby union in France in 2008, just 18 months into a five-year deal that expires on October 31.

He is expected to link with the Sydney Roosters next year after a rugby stint in Japan.

"I have seen a lot of speculation in newspapers but there has been no formal contact," Mattiske said.

"We will wait to see if that contact comes forward. At this stage, it is speculation."

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