NRL won't celebrate Michael Jennings' 300th game

Michael Jennings' "past conduct" has led the NRL to scrap plans for marking his 300-game milestone with traditional celebrations.

AAP understands the NRL deliberated on the matter for weeks before formally notifying Jennings' club the Sydney Roosters of their decision on Monday morning.

In December 2021, the NSW District Court ordered Jennings to pay his ex-wife Kirra Wilden close to $500,000 after she accused the NRL player of raping her multiple times during their marriage.

Jennings denied the allegations, which were brought against him in a civil case and have not been subject to criminal trial.

AAP understands that case was not the sole reason for Jennings being denied celebrations ahead of his milestone match against Newcastle on Thursday, with a three-year drug ban also a factor.

Jennings tested positive to performance-enhancing substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren while playing in Parramatta's 2020 finals tilt, but was thrown an NRL lifeline by the Roosters in the most recent pre-season.

The NRL registered Jennings' train-and-trial contract and also approved his promotion to the Roosters' top-30 squad in March, clearing him for an unrestricted return to first grade.

Jennings played his 299th career game after being activated as 18th man in Friday's loss to Canterbury, but his 300th will pass without fanfare from the NRL.

“Due to past conduct, Michael Jennings will not receive official NRL recognition on his 300th match,” the organisation's chief executive Andrew Abdo said in a statement to AAP.

Ordinarily, Abdo would present a player reaching their 300th appearance with the game ball after the match.

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo.
The NRL will not formally honour Jennings' 300th game, says CEO Andrew Abdo (pictured).

A media release is usually circulated in which league officials formally congratulate the player, and at the ground the 30-metre line is replaced with "300'' as a nod to the individual's achievement.

Abdo is no certainty to attend McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night as Jennings becomes the 51st player to bring up the triple century. 

The NRL will not stand in the Roosters' way if they wish to mark the milestone themselves.

The injury-hit Roosters are expected to name Jennings in their starting side when their team list is released on Tuesday afternoon.

James Tedesco (concussion), Billy Smith (leg) and Dom Young (suspension) will all be missing from the backline, with Jennings and Fetalaiga Pauga set to be brought in as cover.

At the weekend, Roosters teammates argued Jennings' drug ban should not preclude him from formal celebrations of his 300th game.

Jennings pleaded guilty in 2021 to the doping offence to cut his suspension down from four years, but maintained he did not intentionally take banned substances.

In March last year, Jennings unsuccessfully appealed against the NSW District Court's ruling against him in the civil case brought by Wilden.

Lawyers for Wilden declined to comment when AAP contacted them regarding any payment plan set up by the NRL player. 

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