South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold admits being blindsided by the club’s investigation into a lewd video scandal that has rocked its NRL finals series.
One day before their NRL semi-final against St George Illawarra, the Rabbitohs are looking into accusations two stars exposed their private parts without consent in a video chat in May.
News Corp has reported a 23-year-old woman emailed the club about the incident in May, following the club’s win over the Warriors in New Zealand.
But Seibold said he was informed about the situation only on Thursday, while the NRL was only made aware this week.
“I was briefed on the story yesterday and the accusations yesterday. Obviously the club’s just put out a statement this morning, which I’ve just been briefed on,” Seibold said on Friday.
“Our club treat the accusations seriously, as do the NRL integrity unit. In consultation between the integrity unit and the club, my understanding is our investigation’s ongoing.”
The report said the woman emailed the club the day after the alleged incident as a “funny” FaceTime chat became explicit, leaving her feeling “violated and disgusted”.
The woman is believed to own screen shots of one player pulling down his pants to expose his genitals, while the other showed his backside.
A club spokesperson replied assuring the woman the matter was being taken seriously. But she decided to go public after follow-up emails to South Sydney went unreturned.
There are suggestions the initial email was anonymous, while follow-up correspondence was inadvertently tagged as spam.
Seibold confirmed independent contractors were investigating the email trail, while the club said on Thursday it had received only the woman’s contact details.
Officials have since attempted to make contact.
Seibold said he hadn’t seen any photos and was unsure about the players’ mindset as he had yet to speak to the group about the incident.
“It’s a little bit of chaos thrown in front of us,” Seibold said.
“We’ve got the players in here this morning. We’ve got our last practice just before a semi-final game.”
“It’s not ideal that these accusations come out and they’re front page news. It’s not what anybody wants. It’s not what I want. It’s not what our game needs or wants either.”
Seibold believed the club has acted professionally over the incident.
“I think the club has handled it professionally, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve been briefed on. It’s never ideal to hear something like this,” he said.
“It’s been a really positive year for the Rabbitohs on and off the field. I’d rather be talking about the game tomorrow night. I appreciate the interest from the wider community around this.”
The NRL has been contacted for comment.