Two Parramatta Eels players dressed in orange jumpsuits has drawn the ire of victims-of-crime groups.
Centre Brad Taikarangi posted a balaclava-clad photo on social media of himself alongside teammate Manu Ma'u. New Zealand international Ma'u was an original member of Auckland's Roskill South-based "JDK" and was sentenced to three years in prison for a gang-related stabbing where his crew gatecrashed a 21st birthday party and "unleashed hell".
Taikarangi captioned the Instagram post "Experience vs. No Idea ...#convicts".
The Eels club has defended their players, saying the costumes were in reference to gangster rap as opposed to ISIS and criminal gangs.
"I expect it's just a reference to gangster rap music, the boys are all into that kinds of music. It's definitely not a reference to ISIS or criminal gangs," a Parramatta spokesman said.
But Victims of Crime Assistance League CEO Robyn Cotterell-Jones said the players' end-of-season choice was setting a poor example for children using the players as role models.
"Logic would say you'd be ashamed of your past and wouldn't dress yourself up to promote yourself in that way," she said.
"Dressing up in costume is great fun but in this situation it's not a good example for young people. They should be discouraging the idea that it is a good idea to be a criminal. It's too easy for young people to be misled."
Other players went a safer route, opting to dress as characters like Where's Wally and Popeye.
The team also took a jab at the NRL, with one player dressed as Braveheart's William Wallace and posting a photo captioned "#ucantakeourpointsbutucanttakeourfreedom".
The costume choice comes at the end of a disappointing year for the club, in which two players were warned by police for consorting with criminals and the club were deducted 12 competition points after salary cap breaches which led to their board being sacked.