The game may be in lockdown due to coronavirus, but the NRL has decided to de-register Canterbury Bulldogs duo Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera.
The decision comes after the duo were suspended for taking schoolgirls back to the team hotel for sex in Port Macquarie in February.
Doing so breached the club’s code of conduct, and the club self-reported the incident very soon after.
The Canterbury Bulldogs released a statement on the de-registration of the duo.
“The NRL have today deregistered both Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera with immediate effect and as a result their playing contracts with the Bulldogs have been cancelled.
“Our Club acted swiftly and was proactive in relation to the incidents in accordance with the expectations of our club and the NRL guidelines.
“Accordingly, our Club fully supports the determination made by the NRL in defence of the reputation of our game and the conduct of the majority of players who represent their respective clubs in the right way.
“The conduct of the two players, on the eve of our final trial match, demonstrated an unacceptable lack of respect for their teammates, their coach and club officials, our hosts in Port Macquarie and fans of the game everywhere.
“An important part of the role of being a professional rugby league player is to promote the game and act as an ambassador for your club and the code.
“There can be no tolerance for any abuse of the privileged status the game affords its leading players.
“The consequences of this matter have been serious and far-reaching and protecting the welfare of the young women involved has been a priority for us since we were first alerted to this issue.
“They have, unfortunately, been the victims of some distasteful social media attacks which are not called for and need to stop.
“We have been in regular contact with them, their families and their school and we will continue to offer ongoing support moving forward.
“Jayden and Corey have been subject to intense scrutiny in recent times and have paid a heavy price for their behaviour.
“They too are entitled to welfare support to help them through this period and assist them into the next stage of their careers.
“Our club will liaise with their respective agents, the NRL and the Rugby League Players Association to ensure they receive the support and guidance they need.
“We know and accept that there will be conflicting views about the penalties handed out to these two players.
“Our united view as a Club is that a firm line must be drawn in the sand to uphold the standards and values that define our club.
We want to assure our members, partners and supporters that we have outstanding people at the Bulldogs who are working harder than ever to make sure anyone associated with our club understands that we have a culture that we all live by and that this type of behaviour will simply not be tolerated.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the decision sends a clear message to all players.
“The behaviour of both players was inexcusable and a very serious breach of the code of conduct,” he said.
“The game will not tolerate such conduct and as such both players have had their registrations cancelled.
“This decision should send a very clear message to all players of our stance on such behaviour.”