‘Storm in a shot-glass’: Broncos legend furious over NRL probe
Kevin Walters' Broncos have been rocked by another integrity-unit probe on the eve of the season with the NRL investigating a pub dispute involving assistant coach John Cartwright and club legend Chris Johns.
The Courier-Mail can reveal the NRL integrity unit have launched a probe into allegations Cartwright and Johns clashed at a Broncos coaches break-up party before Christmas.
ARL Commission boss Peter V'landys and NRL CEO Andrew Abdo are fed-up with off-field scandals and will not tolerate even the most minor incident giving rugby league a black eye as they look to clean up the sport's image.
An NRL spokesman confirmed the integrity unit had contacted the Broncos about the matter in a drama-charged build-up to Walters' official debut as head coach against Parramatta on Friday week at Suncorp Stadium.
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NRL integrity-unit officers have requested an interview with Cartwright to establish whether Walters' assistant will be sanctioned for his role in the pub bust-up.
Former Gold Coast Titans coach Cartwright joined the Broncos this season as one of Walters' key deputies alongside Brisbane foundation player Terry Matterson.
It is Brisbane's second integrity-unit probe in a month after star prop Payne Haas was fined $50,000 and banned for three NRL matches following his alcohol-fuelled spat with police at Tweed Heads in January.
Johns is the chairman of Brisbane's Old Boys club and, as a good mate of Walters, was invited to the pre-Christmas gathering at the Caxton Hotel near Suncorp Stadium.
Johns and Cartwright have been friends for 30 years dating back to the 1990 Kangaroo tour, but emotions spilt over when the Broncos assistant took offence to comments from the Old Boys boss about his former Penrith club.
Speaking to News Corp on Wednesday night, Johns confirmed an incident took place, but urged the NRL integrity unit not to take formal action against Broncos assistant Cartwright.
"I can't believe it has come to this," Johns said.
"This isn't a storm in a teacup. It's a storm in a shot-glass.
"If the NRL integrity unit punish 'Carty', it's just ridiculous.
"Carty and myself have been mates for decades. I was saying to the coaching staff the Broncos have to get their mongrel back.
"He started talking about Penrith and I said don't try and compare the Panthers as a club to the Broncos, we've won six premierships.
"Carty got the shits and said, 'Don't start bagging my old club'.
"Carty grabbed me and there was a bit of a wrestle but at no stage was there a fight or any punches thrown.
"I'm more than happy for the integrity unit to call me. Carty has done nothing wrong."
Cartwright has vehemently denied allegations he grabbed Johns by the throat as their heated words intensified.
However, he must explain his version of events to NRL investigators just a week out from Brisbane's round-one clash against the Eels.
The Broncos are the NRL's reigning wooden spooners and Walters can ill-afford any off-field ructions as he tries to haul Brisbane out of the cellar and back to finals credibility.
Originally published as 'Storm in a shot-glass': Broncos legend furious over NRL probe