Trolls suspected to be behind disgusting attacks on Anthony Seibold are reportedly linked to NRL players and his rival coaches.
The Brisbane Broncos coach has been the target of vicious and false comments on social media in the wake of his decision to stay in New South Wales after his team’s loss to South Sydney on August 7.
Seibold – who is now self-isolating in his Brisbane home – has sought the services of both lawyers and European cyber-crime researchers with military background to trace the source of the malicious comments.
Initial reports from the investigators suggest Seibold has been targeted by more than one person affiliated to the NRL – with a suspected agenda to have him sacked as Broncos coach.
The investigative team have chased more than 300 leads in the past week and identified several names who are well-known in rugby league circles, The Courier Mail reported.
Former NRL players and people with connections to current and former NRL coaches, including family and friends have reportedly been identified in the investigation.
Seibold’s lawyer Dave Garratt told the paper investigators are closing in on naming the offenders.
‘The cybersecurity people have told me they are 90 per cent sure of who is behind these attacks,’ Mr Garratt said.
‘In fact, it is a group of people and the investigators will give me the different names.
‘They are trying to find the motivation and we will explore whether the motivation was getting rid of Anthony as coach of the Broncos, or if they don’t like him as a person.’
Seibold is set to receive the list of names from the investigators this week, which could bring the NRL integrity unit into the inquiry if the sources are linked to the game.
Mr Garratt said Seibold could sue for criminal defamation or push for a civil suit after the trolling attacks.
Seibold on Monday said the ‘faceless cowards on keyboards’ may force him out of the NRL.
‘It’s not just about me…. This is my family and other people mentioned in those disgusting and false messages,’ Seibold told Daily Telegraph.
‘Say whatever you want about my coaching and the team’s performances but to make up lies and all that abuse … it’s sickening and I’m not going to cop it.’
Seibold will remain at his Brisbane home for another week of self-isolation after breaking the NRL’s ‘COVID bubble’.
The 45-year-old said he chose to take action and go to the police about the hurtful posts because ‘social media has gone to a level that is no longer acceptable’.
He said the game needs to take a stand after Melbourne Storm fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen also spoke out last week about receiving death threats from disgruntled gamblers.
The Broncos are in the midst of their worst-ever season after going down 36-8 against the Canberra Raiders on Saturday in yet another drubbing.
The star-studded team which have failed to perform during the coronavirus-interrupted 2020 season have only managed one win from their past 12 games.
Seibold’s side are currently sitting in second-last place on the ladder.
But off-the-field drama has also plagued the six-time premiership-winning club.
The Broncos were hit with $140,000 in fines on Tuesday after ten players breached biosecurity protocols to have lunch at a pub.
The team has been fined $75,000 by the NRL and each of the ten players were fined five per cent of their salary – totalling $65,000.
The group had gone for lunch at the Everton Park Hotel in Brisbane on August 1 and were at the time allowed to dine at restaurants but not to sit in pubs or gaming areas.
The ten athletes have all been named and shamed with fines going to David Fifita, Jake Turpin, Kotoni Staggs, Cory Paix, Keenan Palasia, Sean O’Sullivan and Corey Oates.
Three development players, Ethan Bullemor, Josh James and Tyson Gamble will have a portion of their fines suspended.
Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo said the breach was a ‘failure’ of the club.
‘We have taken our time to thoroughly investigate this matter so we could gather as much evidence as possible to determine exactly what happened at the venue,” he said.
‘It is our view that this breach involved a significant failure of the club to properly administer the League’s biosecurity protocols.
‘Today’s sanctions send another clear message to all players, officials and clubs that breaching protocols will not be tolerated.’
Broncos CEO Paul White said it was an ‘expensive lesson’ but the club would accept the penalties.
The club was cleared by Queensland Police of breaching the Chief Health Officer’s public health directions.
Brisbane legend Allan Langer and two other fellow support staff were fined $5,000 after breaching COVID-19 protocols by attending a function.
Second-row enforcer Tevita Pangai Jr also landed in hot water after attending a barber shop owned by an outlaw motorcycle club.
The move cost the 24-year-old $30,000 and saw him placed on indefinite suspension.
With all the strain of the season piling up on Seibold and growing calls for the $800,000 a year coach to be sacked with another three years left on his deal, he says he’s ‘angry’ that no one from the NRL has called to check on his well-being.
‘I thought someone could have reached out. Even just a phone call to check in. It’s been bloody hard,’ he said.
‘I’d hate any other coach or player to go through what I have this last week. Will it drive me out of the game? I need to think about that at a later time.’