Sacked St George Illawarra player Paul Vaughan has posted an apology for his “stupid, unexplainable and irresponsible” decision to host a party during the NSW lockdown.
Vaughan was sacked on Tuesday for hosting an illegal gathering at his home with 12 other players at the weekend.
Vaughan’s NRL deal was worth around $750,000 per season and he had already been fined $50,000 by the NRL and slapped with an eight-game ban.
Jack de Belin and other players have copped individual breach notices from the Dragons on top of the one-game suspensions and the $305,000 worth of fines handed out to the group.
Vaughan wrote on Instagram that what happened on the weekend was “thoughtless and disrespectful to not only the game that I love, but to all of the sponsors, members and fans as well as the broader community”.
“The reality is, I should have known better and I am truly sorry,” he wrote.
“I have let a lot of people down through my actions, and I hope that this sincere apology shows how deeply sorry I am and that I realise the enormity and stupidity of what I have done.
“To say that I have learnt a lesson from this is an understatement. I hope one day in the future, I can get the opportunity to showcase my remorse through better actions on and off the field.
“Again, I apologise to my team mates, the NRL, the Club, its members, sponsors and fans along with all stakeholders in the game and community.”
Thirteen players as well as Vaughan’s partner were fined $1000 by NSW Police for breaching a health order.
It has since emerged that de Belin and a handful of others misled authorities, the club and the NRL’s integrity unit to cover up that he had been in attendance.
De Belin told the club that he had been walking his dog in the general area of the party and just dropped something off at Vaughan’s house.
“I don’t think we’ve got a culture problem but I don’t think the culture is where we want it to be,” Dragons chief executive Ryan Webb said on Tuesday.
“We need to honestly look at our culture and say we’re not where we want to be and ask how are we going to improve it from here?”
It is Vaughan’s second breach of the NRL’s biosecurity rules after he attended a cafe while in the NRL bubble last season, and he was on his third warning for another unrelated incident.