It seems the Cronulla Sharks can’t take a trick at present, with club boss Tony Zappia – the man that could be ripping up the under-fire Greg Bird’s contract – has himself beenÂ accused of assaulting a female employee at the Sharks.
Zappia is not commenting on the allegations, but NRL chief executive David Gallop confirmed he knew about the latest situation involving the Cronulla Sharks.
“We are aware that an allegation has been made against him [Zappia],” Gallop said. “At this stage, we are waiting for a report from the club about it.”
Tony Zappia is a new high ranking official at the Sharks, coming on board recently after a long stint with the Parramatta Eels club.
It is believed the incident involving ZappiaÂ allegedly occurred in September, while he and a Sharks employee were skylarking at a home game. No official complaint has been made to NSWÂ police regarding the situation and charges have not been laid, but the matter was, according to club sources, due to appear before the Industrial Relations Commission this morning. Something that the Sharks simply did not need given their currently circumstances.
The employee, who isÂ at present onÂ paid leave from the club, is believed to have evidence of her bruised face after the incident. All this happening as the club’s biggest name playerÂ defends claims of an assault against his girlfriend.
Bird, 24,Â was intense as he leftÂ court yesterday morning, sarcastically telling reporters he “had a ball” while on holidays in the USA and then fired up at a journo saying “don’t touch me” when he was brushed on the shoulder.
His charge of maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm was downgraded to reckless wounding, but he also faces three other charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and two charges of lying to police.
Zappia would not be drawn on Bird’s fate but its widely believed the Sharks will make a call on Birds future prior toÂ April.
The Sharks board is expected to convene shortly to decide on a course of action, but Bird’s manager, Gavin Orr, hinted last night his client was ready to relocate overseas despite insisting throughout the ordeal he wanted to remain in Australia.
“Greg is very disappointed with what has happened today because it means his future is still on hold for another five months,” Orr said. “He might now have to work out whether he can stay here or play abroad.”
The NRL has maintained it would not allow Bird to play at another NRL club if the assault allegations were proven. Asked if Bird gaining a release from the Sharks instead of being sacked might allow him to stay in the NRL, Gallop replied: “Potentially, yes. But one of the things we would look at was the attitude of the club that has terminated him and what led them to terminate him. At this stage, a lot of issues have to be resolved between Greg and the club, and he also has the police matters to sort out as well.”