Johns loses jobs over involvement in sex scandal

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Matthew Johns has lost his television commentator and assistant coaching jobs after the Australian former rugby league international admitted to being involved in a 2002 group-sex scandal.

The Channel Nine television network announced that Johns had been indefinitely stood down from his role as a commentator after a meeting with chief executive David Gyngell on Wednesday.

"I have always had great regard for Matt, but he knows better than anyone that this incident has placed him in untenable position. To his credit he has recognized that and acted upon it," Gyngell said in a statement.

Less than an hour later, National Rugby League (NRL) side Melbourne Storm released a separate statement confirming they were also severing ties with Johns, who is one of the sport's most recognisable figures.

"Following discussions between Melbourne Storm and Matthew Johns' management earlier today, it was mutually agreed that Matthew would stand down from his part-time role with the club, indefinitely," the statement read.

Johns met with his television bosses after he publicly admitted his involvement in a group-sex session with a 19-year-old New Zealand woman while playing for the Cronulla Sharks in Christchurch in 2002.

PUBLIC APOLOGY

The woman said the incident had ruined her life and left her feeling suicidal and depressed, adding that she wanted to shoot dead all the players involved.

She was interviewed as part of a television documentary, which aired in Australia Monday, revealing a series of sordid incidents involving high-profile rugby league players that have rocked the sport.

NRL chief executive David Gallop issued a public apology for the behaviour of players, which he described as appalling and unacceptable.

"The distress of the victims spoke for itself and to the extent that the game can apologise for the actions of individuals then I offer that apology unreservedly," Gallop said.

Gyngell said the decision to indefinitely stand down Johns from his television duties was made in the best interests of everyone involved.

"The fact is, whatever the arguments about the details of the New Zealand incident involving Cronulla players in 2002, the conduct and its aftermath was simply unacceptable, full stop," Gyngell said.

"I fully endorse David Gallop's comments concerning the indefensible conduct of some players and the lack of respect for women -- and the critical focus on all stakeholders to help eradicate it from our game.

"I join with him in extending my apologies and sympathy to the young woman involved in the incident, who clearly is still distressed as a consequence."

(Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by John O'Brien; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com)

Article Published: 13/05/2009