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Penrith star Jaeman Salmon ‘turned his life around’ before Ricky Stuart’s ‘weak-gutted dog’ spray

Panthers star Jaeman Salmon – who was labelled a ‘weak-gutted dog’ by Ricky Stuart – has ‘turned his life around’ since his drink driving crash, according to his manager.

Following Canberra’s 26-6 loss at home to the Panthers, a fired-up Stuart unleashed the outrageous spray at Salmon during the post-match press conference after the five-eighth appeared to kick out at Raiders hooker Tom Starling in the groin. 

Salmon, a Cronulla junior who played for the Eels prior to joining Penrith last season, found himself in hot water in 2018 after crashing into three parked cars while over the limit in an incident that left him ‘very scared’.

The 23-year-old had his licence suspended for six months and was fined $1500 after being found guilty of low-range drink driving in 2019.

Salmon (centre) enjoys a night out with friends in Ibiza during 2018

The incident saw him cross onto the wrong side of the road, crash into three parked cars and flip his car onto its roof in the southern Sydney suburb of Miranda around 9am on October 13, 2018 following a big night of clubbing in Cronulla.

He was taken to hospital for treatment and returned a blood alcohol reading of 0.068 and told police at the time: ‘I think I might have been looking at my phone.’ 

Salmon’s solicitor told the Sutherland Local Court that his client was remorseful for the accident.

‘The trauma of the offence, I’m instructed, has moved him to publicly and sincerely apologise to the court and the local community. He and his family were shaken to the core,’ said solicitor Warwick Korn.

Jaeman Salmon training for the Parramatta Eels in 2018 - the same year he was over the limit when he crashed into three parked cars and rolled his vehicle onto its roof

Jaeman Salmon training for the Parramatta Eels in 2018 – the same year he was over the limit when he crashed into three parked cars and rolled his vehicle onto its roof

Salmon - pictured with Parramatta Eels captain Clint Gutherson (right) - played 17 games for the Eels from 2018 to 2020

Salmon – pictured with Parramatta Eels captain Clint Gutherson (right) – played 17 games for the Eels from 2018 to 2020

At the time, Parramatta, in consultation with the NRL’s integrity unit, fined him an extra $10,000 and suspended him for one match. 

‘Jaeman has demonstrated genuine remorse and has supported this by completing a safe driving course and is currently undertaking welfare and education programs stipulated by the club,’ Parramatta said in a statement.

‘The club views drink driving as an extremely serious offence and is working closely with Jaeman to ensure a clear understanding of his personal responsibilities.’

Salmon's manager Sam Ayoub flew to the defence of his client, though he admitted Salmon was 'rattled' by the remarks

Salmon’s manager Sam Ayoub flew to the defence of his client, though he admitted Salmon was ‘rattled’ by the remarks

Salmon’s manager Sam Ayoub said the talented half had well and truly moved on and matured since then – though he was still affected by Stuart’s remarks.

‘I guess it’s unwanted history. Jaeman has genuinely turned his life and personality around for the better. He is a really good kid and everyone who knows him has a love and respect for him,’ he told News Corp. 

‘He (Salmon) was a little rattled on Saturday night. His family was too. I spoke to him … and he’s still upset by it, but understands there is a bit of history.’ 

The kick in question occurred in the 60th minute of the game, with Salmon’s foot seen making contact with Starling’s groin as the former tried to get up after being tackled – though it is not clear if it was intentional.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart (pictureD) labelled Jaeman Salmon a 'weak-gutted dog' in an extraordinary spray at a post-match press conference

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart (pictureD) labelled Jaeman Salmon a ‘weak-gutted dog’ in an extraordinary spray at a post-match press conference

That didn’t appear to matter to Stuart. 

‘Where Salmon kicked Tommy (Starling), it ain’t on. I have had history with that kid (Salmon). I know that kid very well,’ he said at the post-match press conference.

‘He was a weak-gutted dog as a kid and he hasn’t changed now. He is a weak-gutted dog person now.’

Stuart’s grudge with Jaeman and his family has been simmering for a remarkable 12 years after an incident at a junior rugby league game.

A ‘childish act’ from Salmon reportedly brought Stuart’s son Jackson to tears at a match in 2019, which allegedly saw Stuart confront Salmon. 

Ricky Stuart's sons Jed (left) and Jackson (right) speak at a friend's wedding earlier this year

Ricky Stuart’s sons Jed (left) and Jackson (right) speak at a friend’s wedding earlier this year

Salmon’s father reportedly then confronted Stuart himself, with the pair needing to be separated as things got heated – though the Salmon family said they’ve had no contact with either of the Stuarts since. 

The Salmon family released a statement on Sunday evening imploring the NRL ‘to take action’, condemning the strong remarks from Stuart. 

In the statement, which was distributed by Ayoub, they questioned Stuart’s assertion that he ‘knew the kid well’.

Jaeman Salmon enjoys a holiday on the NSW north coast last year

Jaeman Salmon enjoys a holiday on the NSW north coast last year

‘We were surprised by Ricky’s claim that he knows Jaeman personally as they have had no contact since Jae was 12-years old,’ the statement read.

‘We are calling on the NRL to take action as we believe Jaeman has been wronged in this situation.

‘We will follow the correct procedures and let the NRL complete a thorough investigation,’ said the statement. 

The two continued to play together in same De La Salle Caringbah team in the Sutherland junior competition until Stuart moved to Canberra to coach the Raiders in 2013.   

Jaeman Salmon (centre) celebrates his first game for the Panthers with family

Jaeman Salmon (centre) celebrates his first game for the Panthers with family

Veteran rugby league scribe Phil Rothfield confirmed that Salmon and Stuart had also attended the same school for a number of years.

‘My kids my family have grown up in the (Cronulla) Shire, they’ve been to the same school as Jaeman and Ricky’s kids,’ he told Big Sports Breakfast.

‘Look there is obviously some issues that have been boiling away with Ricky. He hasn’t had closure on them and he exploded and it was the wrong platform, it really was.’

Salmon’s Panthers teammates are supporting the star, who is standing in for injured five-eighth Jarome Luai, with halves partner Sean O’Sullivan saying he ‘loved’ his mate. 

Panthers No.7 Sean O'Sullivan has come out in defence of his halves partner

Panthers No.7 Sean O’Sullivan has come out in defence of his halves partner

‘We spoke to Jaeman after the game and I think he was a little rattled by it. But we all know the type of person Jaeman is and we love him on-and-off the field. Everyone in the organisation is supporting him,’ O’Sullivan told Channel 9.

In a statement, Penrith indicated they are ‘monitoring the situation’, and were mainly focused on ‘Salmon’s wellbeing’.

The NRL are considering an unprecedented punishment that may include suspending the Raiders coach – who has already racked up $135,000 worth of fines in his coaching career.

Stuart initially refused to back down from his comments, but did apologise the following day, admitting he ‘let his ’emotions get the better of him’.  

Salmon, on the other hand, has been slapped with a grade one contrary conduct charge by the NRL, and will cop a $1000-1500 fine if found guilty. 

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