Billy Slater
Queensland coach Billy Slater speaks to the media before game one in the State of Origin series. Image by Jono Searle/AAP IMAGES

Straight to the sin bin for fake PNG rugby league post

Ben James June 24, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

A Facebook post claims to show an offensive exchange between Queensland rugby league coach Billy Slater and star Harry Grant.

OUR VERDICT

False. The supposed exchange was concocted on a digital editing program with neither of the Origin stars involved.

Ahead of State of Origin II, a post has been spreading around Papua New Guinea (PNG) purporting to show an offensive exchange between Queensland head coach Billy Slater and hooker Harry Grant.

The post (screenshot here) features a discussion about PNG-born Xavier Coates who has been ruled out of the series following an injury in game one.

“As a new QLD coach, I don’t need any cannibals (emoji) to support my beloved Maroons. They don’t even need to talk about Coates (emoji) he’s not a PNG citizen,” the profile listed as Billy Slater says.

“Right Billy! Tell those Homo Sapiens to stick their heads back into their asses and concentrate on their corrupted election there rather than talking about QLDs. Ok we don’t f*****g need them,” the profile listed as being Harry Grant responds.

But the post is a fake. Analysis by AAP FactCheck found the exchange was digitally created on Photoshop or a similar editing program.

AAP FactCheck contacted Queensland Rugby League (QRL) on Friday as the squad continued preparations in Perth ahead of game two on Sunday.

A QRL spokesman confirmed via email the fake exchange had nothing to do with Slater or Grant and neither had any knowledge of its existence.

Slater’s actual Facebook account is notably different from the one displayed in the post and includes Facebook’s blue tick.

AAP FactCheck was unable to find the two fake accounts depicted on Facebook.  A search of social media monitoring tool CrowdTangle also failed to produce any evidence of the exchange actually taking place between the fake accounts on social media.

Instead, users posted screenshots of the exchange which was created on Photoshop or another digital editing program.

The post’s image features multiple style inconsistencies with the appearance of genuine Facebook posts. 

Notably the two mentions of hours – above the initial post and then below the reply – are displayed as “5 hours” and “4hours”. However, mentions of those time periods on genuine Facebook posts are displayed on mobile devices as “5 h” and “4 h” (see here) while on desktop computers the word “ago” is added (example here).

The row showing engagement is also inconsistent with Facebook’s formatting. “Comments” and “Shares” all feature initial capital letters in the fake post while in genuine Facebook posts they are in lower case (see here).

There is also a bullet point between “538 Comments” and “217 Shares” which does not feature on genuine posts and the bullet point after “5 hours” is also notably out of place.

Many Facebook users labelled the post as fake as well as “degrading” and “racist”.

Rugby league is PNG’s most popular sport with huge interest in the NRL and the State of Origin series. The Pacific nation announced in May a bid to join the NRL as the competition’s 18th team.

The Verdict

A supposed Facebook post featuring an offensive exchange between Queensland stars Billy Slater and Harry Grant is fake. An analysis of the post reveals it has been created on a digital editing tool. Queensland Rugby League confirmed to AAP FactCheck that neither Slater or Grant had any involvement or knowledge of the post.

False ÔÇô The claim is inaccurate.

AAP FactCheck is an accredited member of the International Fact-Checking Network. To keep up with our latest fact checks, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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