The world of the Canberra Raiders got an unwelcome shock when Tom Starling was charged with assaulting a police officer, reportedly after a brawl on the central coast Saturday night.
We here at the Sportress are very wary of the lesson of 2020 when Curtis Scott found himself with similar charges. The legal process will play out here, and we have no intention of assessing Starling’s guilt or otherwise in these pages. The club has only commented to acknowledge they are now aware of the incident, and we won’t be rushing to judge his behaviour until the legal process plays out.
There’s no pretence however that this is not a big deal. Charges like this can carry serious jail time as a maximum sentence. We’ll eagerly await what the NRL investigation uncovers, not to mention the legal hearings.
The personal impact for Starling of this is particularly upsetting. The Raiders, for the large part, will survive whatever the outcome. With Josh Hodgson returning, and Siliva Havili waiting in the wings, the absence of Starling is readily managed. It may remove some flexibility and a remarkable talent from the side, but the roster is set up such that it can handle this issue.
Starling however is only just establishing himself in the NRL, and god knows what this will mean, whatever the result. We’ve heard Curtis Scott talk about the strain a similar process put him under in 2020, and his charges were thrown out. My heart sinks at the thought of what the impact could be for Tom, both personally and professionally. We hope the club is providing appropriate support to Starling as the NRL and the legal system seek to establish the facts of the case.
In the meantime we would urge patience. The legal system will play out, and the facts of the case will become clear. Let’s wait to see what they are.
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