Canterbury Bulldogs players Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera have been deregistered by the NRL after it was revealed the pair had sex with teenage schoolgirls on a team trip to Port Macquarie in February.
The behaviour of the pair was labelled 'inexcusable' in statements released by the NRL and the Bulldogs on Wednesday afternoon, with the club saying they supported the game's decision.
"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," the Bulldogs' statement read.
The statement went on to detail the impact the scandal had taken on the two girls involved, with the Bulldogs revealing both had been targeted on social media as a result.
The club would continue to provide ‘ongoing support’ - but added that they would also provide support to Okunbor and Harawira-Naera.
“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.”
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg condemns ‘inexcusable’ behaviour
NRL boss Todd Greenberg also briefly commented on the matter after the players were de-registered.
He said the decision should serve as an ultimatum to players that similar behaviour would result in them being de-registered as well.
“The behaviour of both players was inexcusable and a very serious breach of the code of conduct,’’ Greenberg 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.”