(Reuters) - Australian rugby league player Anthony Watts has denied biting an opponent’s penis during a tackle in a local league game earlier this month.
Watts, a former player in Australia’s top-flight National Rugby League, was handed an eight-match ban following a video review of the incident in a Gold Coast match two weeks ago.
Footage of the match posted on YouTube showed the Tugun Seahawks utility pulled down in a tackle near the tryline and subsequently becoming involved in a melee with remonstrating players from the Bilambil Jets team.
The video later showed one of the Jets players pulling down his shorts in front of the referee.
“I was wearing a mouthguard and there’s no way I bit him on the dick,” Watts told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
”The claim is laughable but I’ve still had to live with it. I know I didn’t do it and the people close to me know I didn’t do it, either.
“It’s something I‘m probably going to be known for, even though they’ve got no evidence to back any of it up.”
Watts was handed the ban after being found guilty of “contrary conduct” by the Gold Coast Rugby League last week.
Dumped by NRL team Sydney Roosters in 2011 for disciplinary problems, Watts was sentenced to community service in June for being involved in a brawl between rival motorcycle gangs on the Gold Coast.
That followed a conviction on a weapons possession charge by a New South Wales court after he had been found carrying knuckle-dusters.
Watts said he had been victimised as a former NRL player and the ban was an attempt to drive him out of the game.
“There’s been numerous times in other games that players have made false claims against me,” he added.
“I find that I get targeted all the time. If something happens to me, there’s no penalty. If I do the same thing, there’s a penalty.”
Other Australian football players have in the past been punished for unsavoury on-field incidents.
Peter Filandia, a former top-flight Australian Rules player, was banned for 10 games for biting an opponent’s testicles during a minor league match in 2002.
Former NRL player John Hopoate, who represented Australia in rugby league, was banned in 2001 and sacked by his club for inserting his finger into an opposing player’s anus on more than one occasion.
Last month, England international Sam Burgess was banned for two weeks for a “squirrel tackle” in which he grabbed the testicles of opponent Will Chambers during an NRL match.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien