“He’s clearly embarrassed, ashamed and having to deal with the anxiety of how that has played out publicly, which is the real punishment in all of this.
“We need to remember this occurred five years ago, when a completely different climate existed. We don’t think it’s fair to hand down a 2019 penalty for something that occurred in 2013.
“It may be that there are some suitable sanctions we can all accept. We also need to make sure we protect the players’ rights around privacy and respect the laws in place to ensure we don’t incentivise those with an axe to grind against a particular NRL player or high-profile person.
“We need to make sure we don’t encourage people to breach the law around this stuff. We don’t want to get into a situation where we have players being blackmailed or exploited through illegally sharing of private videos.”
NSW Parliament amended the Crimes Act in 2017 to make it a crime to record, distribute or publish videos such as the ones taken of Napa without his consent. That legislation came into effect after the videos were taken but, given they were only recently published, the matter could lead to criminal charges.
Prendergast said that a suspension for Napa would also unfairly punish the Bulldogs for an incident they couldn’t have reasonably been aware of.
“I think we are stepping into dangerous territory if a heavy-handed fine or suspension is imposed on Dylan Napa for videos that were filmed many years ago,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that we have players faced with uncertainty over something that may have happened in the past and the impact that it could have on their NRL career.
“If we are going to increase the penalties for this type of behaviour, that’s fine, but that needs to be clear to players at the time of when these incidents occur.
“From our point of view, we support the game taking a strong stance. The players are as disappointed as anyone with incidents that have occurred over the off-season.
“The players are really hurting, they understand the incidents have put the game under huge pressure. They are willing to work with the NRL and the clubs to get back on track and they understand their obligations in that regard.
“They are also asking the NRL to work more closely with us to protect their privacy to ensure the laws in place to protect everyone are respected.
“That’s the conversation we’re having with the NRL around some of these videos that have been leaked and published. We want to ensure players’ fundamental rights around privacy are better protected in the future.
“There’s a heightened awareness to exercise more care about what you capture on video and what you share. We’re talking about a different time where it’s difficult to look at it through today’s lens.
“Going forward, if this conduct occurs we will have less empathy for a player in that situation.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.