The futures of four players are in the hands of the NRL’s Integrity Unit following a horror 72 hour period for the code.
In what should normally be the NRL’s downtime, the series of off-field indiscretions ensures the Integrity Unit will be kept busy through the Christmas period.
South Sydney’s Dylan Walker and Canterbury recruit Tyrone Phillips are the latest to drag the game’s name through the mud, and were on Wednesday charged over their involvement in a violent brawl, reportedly involving 100 people, which left three men in hospital.
Phillips is the second Canterbury signing in as many days to hit the headlines, following Tuesday’s news that veteran Reni Maitua was suspended after being charged with assaulting a taxi driver in the early hours of Monday morning.
That came hot on the heels of Manly’s Richie Fa’aoso, who was charged over an alleged domestic incident on Monday and pleaded guilty to mid-range drink driving on Tuesday.
Newcastle recruit Russell Packer was questioned by police, but not changed, over an alleged assault in Sydney on Friday.
It adds up to be a disastrous sequence for the NRL, who celebrated White Ribbon day on Monday, but one to which they are sadly accustomed.
Canterbury chief executive Raelene Castle spoke for the rugby league community when she lamented the latest bad news to confront her club.
“Today we are dealing with another unacceptable and unnecessary situation,” Castle said in a statement.
“(Coach) Des (Hasler) and I will continue to work with the leadership group to ensure our younger players fully understand what it means to be, and what it takes to be, a quality athlete, a good Bulldogs club person and a valued member of the community at large.
“The Bulldogs will offer further comment once the matter is brought to a close.”
Walker and Phillips were charged with affray following an incident in a carpark at Beverly Hills, in Sydney’s south, around 3am on November 3.
Police allege one man suffered puncture wounds to his stomach in the fight, while another was found lying on the ground with a head wound. A third victim walked away with minor injuries.
Both Walker and Phillips, former South Sydney teammates, were granted conditional bail and are due to face court on December 17.
“The investigation by the NRL’s Integrity Unit is ongoing and the club will fully cooperate with them during this process,” South Sydney said in a statement.
A former South Sydney player, Phillips was only signed by the Bulldogs this month and is yet to play a first grade game.
Walker made his NRL debut with the Rabbitohs in May and played 16 games last season.