The two Bulldogs players stood down for alleged misconduct reportedly brought two school girls back to their hotel for consensual sex.
Canterbury's round-one preparations were rocked on the eve of the new season when Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor were stood down on Tuesday, just two days out from their NRL season-opener against Parramatta.
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The Bulldogs confirmed both players had been provisionally suspended by the NRL, but did not go into immediate detail the nature of their alleged breaches.
However, Sydney Morning Herald journalists Adrian Proszenko and Michael Chammas have reported that the players were temporarily stood down for having consensual sex with two school-aged girls they met in Port Macquarie during a recent pre-season trip.
The report stressed that there was no criminal investigation into the incident and Chammas confirmed the girls at the centre of the scandal were of legal age.
No complaints have been made against either player.
“They did breach team policy by bringing girls back to the room,” Sydney Morning Herald reporter Michael Chammas told Triple M’s Rush Hour with MG.
“In terms of the Bulldogs, they set these guidelines out for the players that they weren’t to bring females back to the room.
“The girls were in high school, but they were of legal age, however, the club made the moral judgment this was against what they stood for and decided in consultation with the NRL that they’d stand them down.
“This came to the Bulldogs on Friday and there’s been a series of interviews with the people involved since then and they’ve decided to take this course of action.”
The NRL issued Harawira-Naerea and Okunbor with show cause notices, meaning they must present a case as to why further disciplinary measures should not be taken as part of the game's code of conduct.
The Bulldogs launched their own review into the incident and backed the NRL's decision to issue a show cause notice.
“The Bulldogs referred the matter to the NRL Integrity Unit after receiving concerning reports of alleged misconduct by the two players. The club also initiated its own internal review.
“While neither player is the subject of a criminal investigation, the club is treating the matter very seriously. The allegations are that each player engaged in behaviour that represents a serious breach of the NRL rules and the Bulldogs’ code of conduct, resulting in the NRL notice.
“The club supports the NRL’s decision to issue the breach notices and will continue to work with the NRL to conclude the process.
“Both players have an opportunity to respond to the matters alleged in the breach notice before any final decision is made.”
Bulldogs left to cover for star duo
Harawira-Naera moved to the club last year from Penrith, and formed a dangerous part of the Bulldogs' strong back row.
He led the NRL last year in offloads with 59, and also busted through 41 tackles.
Okunbor made his debut on the wing last year, and proved to be one of the game's most powerful runners of the ball.
He made headlines when he ran over Melbourne captain Cameron Smith in his second NRL game.
Both players had been training with the NRL club's top team as recently as Monday.
"The club supports the NRL's decision to issue the breach notices and will continue to work with the NRL to conclude the process," Hill said.
"Both players have an opportunity to respond to the matters alleged in the breach notice before any final decision is made."
Both the NRL and Bulldogs have been approached for further comment.