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Oz rugby league probes racist taunt claims

A group of people were thrown out of the Central Coast Stadium, north of Sydney, on Friday night after allegedly hurling racist taunts at indigenous winger Brent Naden during Penrith Panthers' victory over the New Zealand Warriors.

Penrith Panthers' Brent Naden. Picture: @PenrithPanthers/Twitter

SYDNEY - Australian rugby league chiefs Saturday vowed to come down hard on any fans racially abusing players after an "ugly" incident overshadowed weekend action.

A group of people were thrown out of the Central Coast Stadium, north of Sydney, on Friday night after allegedly hurling racist taunts at indigenous winger Brent Naden during Penrith Panthers' victory over the New Zealand Warriors.

It was not known what was said by the young men, who were reportedly Warriors fans, but police and stadium authorities were investigating.

National Rugby League's acting chief Andrew Abdo said the governing body took the matter extremely seriously.

"If the allegations are proven to be of a racial nature or vilification nature or of a bullying nature, we'll take the strongest possible action the game can take against those individuals," he said.

"Things like those don't happen that often but they should never happen.

"When they do happen, we have to act decisively. We have to act in a unified and strong way -- and that's what we intend to do."

He suggested those involved could be banned from attending games.

Rugby league has been marred by racial abuse in the past, but not for some time and not to the extent witnessed by rival code Australian Rules.

Players past and present condemned the "vile and ugly" incident and Panthers coach Ivan Cleary said it wasn't the first time Naden had been targeted.

"But I think in this form it has been. So he certainly took offence to it at the time but he's ok now," he told reporters.

Abdo said he had spoken to the player and that the "response following this incident shows just how we feel about matters like this and I think he appreciates that".

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