IF Aaron Ison had his time over again he admits he would have done things differently.
The former Wauchope Blues captain-coach is currently in the middle of a two-year ban slapped on him from the Country Rugby League.
It came after he was charged and found guilty of supplying a prohibited drug and possessing ecstasy tablets in March 2016.
He was stood down from his duties with the Blues for last season and was looking forward to re-joining rugby league with Beechwood in 2017.
The CRL had other ideas and have banned Ison from his role in this season’s Hastings League.
“I expect and deserve punishment, but I’ve been given longer away from footy than what the justice system gave me,” he said.
“I was given a 15-month good behaviour bond and community service, but I’ve effectively been given a two-year ban from rugby league because I can’t do anything until March next year.”
He said the hardest part about the last 12 months was regaining people’s respect.
I’ve been given longer away from footy than what the justice system gave me.Aaron Ison
“Everyone makes mistakes,” he said.
"You’ve got to learn from them and turn a negative into a positive which is what I’m trying to do by giving back to the game of rugby league.
“I’ve done my time, but I feel the punishment should have been backdated from the time I went to court.”
Ison hasn’t been offered the same latitude as former Newcastle Knight Danny Wicks or Gold Coast Titan Jamie Dowling.
Wicks left the Knights, but was allowed to play in Grafton until his court hearing whereas Ison was stood down immediately.
“Jamie Dowling played for Burleigh Bears until he was found guilty of cocaine possession and dealing but he’s still playing this year,” Ison said.
“He hasn’t missed a game. It’s bizarre that my situation has been ruled differently.”
Ison remains puzzled by the CRL’s decision.
“I’m a nobody trying to help a bush footy club where a whole town and general community are willing to give me a second chance,” he said.
“The CRL is making a double standard to what they do with the role models of the NRL – it’s just crazy.”
Ison said he tried to register halfway through last season “once the dust settled” only to find out he had been de-registered.
CRL chief executive officer Terry Quinn strongly refuted those claims.
“He’s been well informed of what’s going on through phone calls and emails,” Quinn said.
“What Aaron did shouldn’t have happened; he got caught dealing drugs which is a serious offence.”
Quinn said the decision had been made with the help of a number of people.
“We’ve spoken to a lot of people – the NRL Integrity Unit, the police and obtained court documents,” he said.
“Aaron’s suspension at this stage is for an indefinite period of time and we will know more once we have a board meeting on Friday.”