Williams investigated over bets

Under investigation: David Williams playing against the Roosters. Photo: Anthony JohnsonDavid Williams, the Manly winger nicknamed ‘Wolfman’, is known to be fond of multi-bets that include the German Bundesliga football team VfL Wolfsburg.

However, Williams is one of up to seven players facing bans of between two and six matches for also including NRL matches as a leg in some multi-bets.

Fairfax Media has confirmed the names of three other players involved in the investigation but they are rookies, who have played little NRL or are yet to make their debut.

The list includes players from Melbourne, North Queensland and Gold Coast. At least one club is understood to have more than one player facing suspension.

At least two other players rumoured to be involved are regular first-graders, including a former Test forward and a back who represented another nation at last year’s World Cup.

The majority of wagers were often small – most $5 or less – and there is no suggestion of match fixing. One high-profile player, who placed a small bet, is among those caught out but is not expected to be outed.

Some officials are also thought to have been caught in the investigation.

However, it is understood that the majority of the 25 violations detected in an investigation by the NRL integrity unit involved players in the NYC under 20s competition last year. Some are no longer playing in the NRL.

Not all of the players will be suspended, with seven believed to be facing bans.

The players were caught in an audit of TAB and other betting agency records. It is understood the players had bet from accounts in their own names, which required passports or driver’s licences to be used as identification.

Some of the bets were placed using smartphone apps.

The NRL is in the process of finalising its findings, with an announcement expected on Thursday or Friday after advising the players of the allegations last week.

NRL officials were fuming on Wednesday that Williams’ name had become public and both his club and agent George Mimis refused to confirm his involvement.

Williams is a former NSW and Australian winger but his form has dipped and he has spent most of the season languishing in the NSW Cup.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy Bellamy said he hadn’t been told of a Storm player facing suspension for placing a $20 bet on an NRL match and threatened to walk out of a press conference on Wednesday if questions continued.

But Bellamy said any player caught gambling on rugby league was “quite foolish”.

“From the rumours I’m hearing there doesn’t seem to be much damage done from the size of the bets but I don’t know how many times a year players and staff and coaches are told you can’t bet on rugby league games,” Bellamy said.

“It seems silly to me.

“I’ve got no idea why it has been happening – they all know. We know from other walks of life that gambling can be an illness so that might be an issue for the NRL.

“Anyone who has a bet after this has rocks in his head.”

There is no evidence of spot or match-fixing but the NRL, which hasn’t had an official betting partner since it severed ties with Tabcorp in 2012, still wants to send a message the behaviour won’t be tolerated.

The NRL has taken the unprecedented step of partially funding a feature film, Broke, as part of its educational messages to players.

The Australian production – which stars Claire van der Boom, Steve Le Marquand and Steve Bastoni – deals with gambling issues and will donate any profits to the Men of League foundation.

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