On the eve of the NRL season, Aussie rugby league competition has been rocked by another off-field scandal, involving Kiwis forward Corey Harawira-Naera.
The Canterbury Bulldogs second-rower and teammate Jayden Okunbor have been stood down, after alleged misconduct involving two New South Wales school girls.
The incident took place during a pre-season camp at Port Macquarie last month. According to 9News, neither player is under a criminal investigation.
The females involved were over the age of consent, which is 16 in NSW, and neither they nor their families have laid complaints with the police, club or NRL.
9News reports the players brought the girls back to their hotel, after meeting them at an official club visit to a local school.
The club discovered the incident during an internal investigation and the Bulldogs alerted the NRL Integrity Unit.
"They did breach team policy by bringing girls back to the room," Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Chammas told Triple M's Rush Hour with MG, hosted by former NRL star Mark Geyer.
"In terms of the Bulldogs, they set these guidelines out for the players that they weren't to bring females back to the room.
"The girls were in high school," Chammas said. "They were of legal age, but the club made the moral judgment this was against what they stood for and decided, in consultation with the NRL, that they'd stand them down.
"This came to the Bulldogs on Friday. There's been a series of interviews with the people involved since then and they've decided to take this course of action."
Bulldogs chief executive Andrew Hill confirmed both players had been suspended.
"Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor have been stood down by the Bulldogs, after each was issued a show cause notice by the NRL as to why they shouldn't face further disciplinary action for alleged breaches of the game's code of conduct," Hill said.
"Both players have been provisionally suspended by the NRL and neither player is available for selection for Thursday night's NRL season-opener against Parramatta.
"While neither player is the subject of a criminal investigation, the club is treating the matter very seriously. The allegations are that each player engaged in behaviour that represents a serious breach of the NRL rules and the Bulldogs' code of conduct, resulting in the NRL notice.
"Both players have an opportunity to respond to the matters alleged in the breach notice, before any final decision is made."
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