Under-fire Newcastle Knights forward Mitch Barnett has broken his silence, declaring he did not racially abuse Gold Coast forward Tyrone Peachey during his side's clash against the Titans in the NRL's final round a week ago.
Barnett and Peachey were instructed to undergo a conciliation process by the NRL which has now been completed after an Integrity Unit investigation failed to find evidence to prove the Titans forward was racially abused.
It's understood there will be no further action taken.
Peachey accused Barnett of calling him a "black c***" after they came together in a tackle in the second half of the game.
Barnett is set to speak at length over the issue but in a club statement, protested his innocence.
The statement read:
"I am many things. A son, a husband, a teammate. I am not a racist and I did not racially abuse Tyrone Peachey. I cannot be clearer on this.
To be accused of such a thing is heartbreaking. I am far from perfect and have many flaws, but I did not do what I was accused of. It's not who I am.
While I am shattered to be accused of such an act, one positive to come from all of this is it has generated a conversation around racism. It is a conversation that needs to continue and extends beyond rugby league.
Players should call out discrimination and I support Tyrone in speaking out. I hope Tyrone continues to receive support from the game and his club. However, that does not change the fact I did not say what I was accused of saying.
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While in this case, there was a misunderstanding, I hope this situation has made everyone more conscious of the evils of racism.
I would like to thank the NRL Integrity Unit for its thorough investigation.
I also thank the club and my teammates for their support and the incredible supporter base who were measured in their thoughts around this situation.
I don't want to be known for this and this won't define me or my reputation. I look forward to putting this matter behind me and focusing on the finals series."
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