Jennings' return 'not disrespectful to women': Robinson

Trent Robinson has insisted Michael Jennings' return to the NRL "is not disrespectful to women", adamant it is the Sydney Roosters' responsibility to help the centre rebuild his life.

Jennings' 300th game will go uncelebrated by the NRL in Newcastle on Thursday night, after head office opted not to recognise the 35-year-old given his past personal conduct.

That includes a recent three-year ban for performance-enhancing drugs, as well as a 2021 civil case in which his ex-wife successfully sued him for sexual and verbal abuse.

Jennings did not face criminal charges and denied allegations of repeatedly raping former partner Kirra Wilden.

But a NSW District Court judge found in Wilden's favour on the balance of probability in the civil matter, and ordered Jennings to pay close to $500,000 in damages.

Robinson has accepted the NRL's decision not to publicly recognise Jennings' 300th game, and is aware of the surrounding strong public opinion.

But the Roosters coach rejected any suggestion that the decision to bring Jennings back is disrespectful to women, after Wilden claimed his return showed the NRL did not take female safety seriously.

"It's a tough one, right? Because there's no doubt we've moved a long way in that sense," Robinson said when asked about the criticism.

"We don't know what happened ... there's been no criminal charges.

"The differentiation between what happens in civil and financial payment and what happens in criminal is really different.

"What judgement can we make when it's not been criminal (charges) and gone down the traditional line there?

"And so therefore, it's not disrespectful to women, because there has been no judgement when it's come to criminal case in that way."

Robinson said the Roosters would acknowledge Jennings' 300th NRL game behind closed doors, after he made his return from the drugs ban as 18th man against Canterbury last week.

Michael Jennings and Jacob Kiraz.
Michael Jennings and Jacob Kiraz share a laugh after the Roosters' loss to the Bulldogs.

Part of that, he said, would be recognising the path Jennings had taken to put his career and life back on track.

"We thought we could improve someone’s life - we didn’t know if he was going to play NRL again," Robinson said.

"We play the 80 minutes and you've got to play well. The reason he's there is because he's worked hard.

"But we all have a responsibility, as anybody that walks in the doors, that we improve their lives. If we can assist with that.

"We want to play a part in making him the best partner now and the best father he can."

Robinson said it was up to the NRL to explain why they allowed Jennings' return to the sport, but did not feel it right to celebrate the milestone.

But he was adamant the club had done their due diligence before signing the veteran when his drug ban expired.

"We spent a lot of time at the start and had to go through everything," Robinson said.

"Because I knew his partner as well, Kirra, when they were here (at the Roosters) together.

"There's been no criminal investigation. So we've just had to run on the facts there, and then going through where his life's at, where his family's at at the moment.

"We take pride in the responsibility of getting that right. And helping with that."

Meanwhile Robinson played down concerns over James Tedesco's long-term future after his latest concussion, which rules him out of the Knights clash.

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