NRL promising pain after ‘repulsive’ act
NRL boss Todd Greenberg has warned the league is ready to send a message in the form of a severe punishment if allegations from the Canterbury schoolgirl scandal are proven.
Both Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor's futures hang in the balance, as the NRL and Bulldogs investigate allegations they brought two young females back to a hotel last month.
The two have already been provisionally stood down by the NRL and club, and will not train or play with the team until the investigation is complete after being handed a breach notice.
Screenshots of a conversation between Okunbor and a girl published in the Sydney Morning Herald show that she was a student from a school he visited that day in Port Macquarie on a club visit.
They also show the Bulldogs winger asking her what she was doing that night, before she responded "you".
An angry Greenberg said the incident was "completely unacceptable" and would "not be tolerated".
"Part of being a first grade player is being a role model," Greenberg said on Wednesday night.
"Respect for women is a fundamental aspect of our training courses from rookies to elite players.
"That's why we took immediate action in provisionally suspending both players allegedly involved in the matters under investigation.
"Rest assured, if these breaches are sustained the players will face significant sanctions which will both meet community expectation, and send a message to every single player in our game."
SPONSOR: 'IT'S DISGUSTING … REPULSIVE'
The scandal has already cost the Bulldogs a $2 million sponsorship with restaurant chain Rashays.
"It's a shame two players could wreck it for everyone," Rashays owner Rami Ykmour told the Sydney Morning Herald after backing out of major deal.
"It's disgusting. It's repulsive, to be honest …
"When you have your own kids you see things differently. I have children myself that go to school, so when you hear stories like this you have no choice but to walk away. We're a family restaurant and when I told my wife about what was about to come out in the media, she said we had to get out of it."
The timing of the incident has no doubt frustrated the NRL. Greenberg's comments came less than 24 hours before the beginning of the season.
The Bulldogs feature in the season opener against Parramatta, meaning coverage of the lead up to the game has been dominated by the scandal. The NRL's schools and community program is also a source of great pride for the organisation.
"Conduct of this nature breaches every aspect of what we stand for as a game," Greenberg said.
"Our players have no greater social responsibility than promoting respect for women.
"Our game has been commended internationally for the work we do, not only in Australia but throughout the Pacific, in educating and promoting respect for women.
"We will continue to do more and more in this sphere and we will act swiftly on any player who does not meet those expectations."