The NRL future of Penrith utility Tyrone May is at a crossroads after the reigning premiers sacked the 25-year-old following a social media post. A month on from the club’s grand final win over South Sydney, May was forced to front the club’s board where his one-year contract was terminated with immediate effect.
May was given support by the club’s co-captain Nathan Cleary who posted on Instagram: “My brother no matter what. Got you always.”
It was the same social media platform which led to May’s demise when, in the aftermath of the club’s premiership victory, he uploaded a photo of himself alongside coach Ivan Cleary leaving Parramatta Local Court in 2020.
The image was captioned with lyrics from Canadian rapper Drake which read: “And the dirt that they threw on my name turned to soil and I grew up out it. Time for y’all to figure out what y’all gon’ do about it. Love my brothers”.
May had been before magistrate Robyn Denes where he pleaded guilty to four counts of recording intimate images without consent. He was sentenced to 300 hours of community work and narrowly avoided jail time with Denes describing his behaviour as “morally reprehensible”.
After being stood down by the NRL in 2019 he was allowed to return to the Panthers squad and played in the club’s 2020 grand final loss to Melbourne. He came off the bench in this year’s victory over the Rabbitohs and it was then that he uploaded the post which marked the beginning of the end of his 56-game Panthers career.
The post was quickly deleted, but the NRL’s integrity unit handed him with a $7,500 fine for “social media posts which do not align with the values of the game”.
Penrith subsequently stood the one-time Samoa international down, before the board met last Wednesday where they determined May’s conduct “constituted a serious breach of his NRL playing contract”.
A week later May met with the board and Penrith’s directors opted to sever ties.
“As a club we understand our responsibilities to the game, our corporate partners, our members and fans, and the wider rugby league community,” Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher said.
“The board observed due process in this matter and considered all relevant factors before reaching its final decision. Panthers will coordinate with the NRL to ensure Tyrone receives access to any support services he needs moving forward.”
Penrith are already making moves to shore up a replacement with unsigned Warriors playmaker Sean O’Sullivan recently linked with a move to the club. May, meanwhile, faces an uncertain wait to find a new team.