Newcastle recruit Russell Packer has been interviewed by police over an alleged assault in Sydney in the latest off-field incident involving an NRL player.
On Tuesday, only a day after Manly prop Richie Fa’aoso was charged over an alleged domestic incident involving his wife, the Knights issued a statement saying they were aware of Packer’s involvement in an alleged Sydney assault on Friday night.
The news came on the same day Canterbury back-rower Reni Maitua was charged with assaulting a taxi driver in Sydney’s south-east.
The NRL has been advised and the NRL integrity unit is investigating, the statement said. “The club will co-operate with the police and the NRL.”
The Newcastle Herald reported that police are continuing investigations into the incident involving Packer, who notoriously urinated on the field before a game during the 2013 season.
With most clubs only back in pre-season for a couple of weeks and the Rugby League World Cup still being played in Britain it has made for a busy time for the NRL’s Integrity Unit, which was established last season.
The NRL released a statement on Tuesday in which it said it was investigating each of the incidents.
Fa’aoso appeared at Campbelltown Local Court on Tuesday after he was charged with malicious damage, not stopping a vehicle when directed to do so and drink-driving.
The charges follow an alleged domestic violence incident at Macquarie Fields on Sunday.
The Sea Eagles forward was also hit with an apprehended violence order (AVO).
He pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge but his distressed pregnant wife did not drop the AVO against him.
The incident came a day before White Ribbon Day, a national campaign aimed at ending violence against women, which has been endorsed by the NRL.
Dressed in a black business shirt and tie, Fa’aoso said nothing as his barrister told the court he was pleading guilty to the drink-driving charge but would contest the other charges.
His heavily pregnant wife, who came to court separately with a female friend, appeared shaken and teary during his court appearance.
She also left the court without him and there was no indication in court that the AVO against him was being dropped.
Outside court Fa’aoso told reporters that he’s not a violent person and he knows he’s made some “bad decisions”.
“I would never hurt my wife and kids,” he said.
“I just want to apologise to anyone out there that I let down.”
He thanked his club and his family and friends for their support.
According to police, Fa’aoso’s wife fled her home after the allegedly drunk 108kg prop smashed furniture, kicked a door off its hinges and broke a window during a domestic dispute.
An argument broke out between the couple at their Macquarie Fields home early on Sunday afternoon, police say.
After his wife fled, Fa’aoso followed her to another house at nearby Ingleburn, where they continued arguing, police say.
Police were called and tried to stop Fa’aoso as he drove from the home. They say he failed to pull over and they chased him for a short distance.
Fa’aoso was arrested and taken to Macquarie Fields police station where he was breath-tested, allegedly returning a reading of 0.126.
The NRL said on Monday that it had launched an investigation into the incident by its Integrity Unit.
He will next face court on January 23.
Court papers state that Fa’aoso also allegedly recklessly destroyed property at the rental home including a rear screen door and a bedroom window.
The NRL is investigating all three matters. “We must all accept the need to establish the relevant facts and the Integrity Unit will carry out that task with the cooperation of the clubs,” NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said.
“If however breaches are established then we will act accordingly.
“The Integrity Unit has provided a clear mechanism for assessing behavioural issues and we have already shown this year that we will act on the outcomes.
“The overwhelming majority of our players are fantastic ambassadors both for the game and the community. It is all the more important, therefore, that we send clear messages in relation to off-field misbehaviour.”