Former Queensland and Sea Eagles representative Owen Cunningham was caught up in the sickening brawl that marred the opening day of Magic Round at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium
On Friday evening, footage emerged of a physical altercation at the northern end of the western stand, with approximately half a dozen men throwing punches and tumbling backwards over chairs.
The fight lasted about a minute before security and police intervened.
Watch every game of Magic Round this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >
The video quickly circulated social media, with rugby league fans voicing their disgust at the crowd behaviour and lack of security intervention.
A Queensland Police spokesperson confirmed to news.com.au that three people involved in the altercation were evicted by police and handed penalty infringement notices for disorderly conduct on a licensed premises — but there are no active assault complaints.
Rugby league icon Phil Gould tweeted: “Why come to the football and behave like that? It’s got nothing to do with the NRL, clubs, fans, ground security. Zero. Why blame them? If people want to carry on like brainless hooligans, they will. All you can do now is identify them and bar the instigators from ever attending.”
As revealed by The Daily Telegraph, Cunningham found himself embroiled in the brawl after his son was allegedly coward punched by one of the spectators.
In footage shared to Twitter, the 55-year-old appeared to the struck in the head during the incident, while his son ended up in hospital with a broken sinus bone.
Cunningham, who was wearing a sling having recently undergone shoulder surgery, is seen protecting his face during the ugly ordeal.
“There were about eight of them … it was a f***ing disgrace,” Cunningham told News Corp.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like they were there for a stink, not the football.
“My oldest boy Ethan was sitting with his girlfriend and they were making some derogatory comments towards her.
“Then it started and my bloke got kinged (king hit) between the eyes. It was shocking.
“We got escorted out and took Ethan straight to hospital.”
Speaking to The Courier Mail about the incident, NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo slammed Queensland rugby league fans and threatened to impose bans.
“There’s absolutely no place for violence at our games,” he said.
“Aside from the action the authorities may take, we will also ban any fan who engages in violence in the grandstands. It will not be tolerated.
“Magic Round is a celebration of our game, our fans and families. Almost 150,000 fans will attend this weekend and we will speak with the Stadium, who oversees security, to ensure the right measures are in place.”
Cunningham played 276 NRL games after making his first-grade debut in 1985, representing the Manly Sea Eagles, Northern Eagles and North Queensland.
He also featured in one State of Origin fixture for the Queensland Maroons in 1996.