Fresh employee twist in Viliame Kikau leaked photo controversy

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Viliame Kikau is one of a number of high-profile signings for the Bulldogs. Pic: Getty
Viliame Kikau is one of a number of high-profile signings for the Bulldogs. Pic: Getty

A Canterbury Bankstown employee behind the Viliame Kikau controversy reportedly faces the sack for leaking a photo of the player without the club's consent.

The leaked photo of Kikau in a Bulldogs jersey sparked uproar in NRL circles after doing the rounds on social media last week.

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Canterbury supremo Phil Gould was forced to apologise to former club Penrith after Panthers star Kikau's signing was leaked via a security camera image of him in Bulldogs clothing.

Kikau's new four-year deal with the Bulldogs from 2023 was not supposed to be made public until this week but the photo of the player in Bulldogs colours alongside Gould and coach Trent Barrett starting circulating before Penrith's grand final parade on Saturday.

The Panthers forward was subsequently booed by some sections of the Penrith faithful, despite taking to social media to express his dismay at how the news broke.

The leaked photo showed Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould (left) and coach Trent Barrett standing on either side of Viliame Kikau with the trio in Canterbury colours. Pic: Twitter
The leaked photo showed Bulldogs supremo Phil Gould (left) and coach Trent Barrett standing on either side of Viliame Kikau with the trio in Canterbury colours. Pic: Twitter

According to the Daily Telegraph, Canterbury have identified the employee responsible for taking a screenshot of Kikau from security footage at the club's headquarters, before passing it on to a friend.

The report said the employee had been brought in for disciplinary meetings with club officials and HR on Monday, with the Bulldogs understood to be considering given that person the sack.

Gould reportedly told NewsCorp it was an "understatement" to say that he was "filthy" about the saga.

Channel Seven rugby league reporter Michelle Bishop revealed on SEN that the Bulldogs had sought legal advice about the situation.

“The Dogs are obviously seeking legal advice at the moment,” Bishop said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.

“(The employee) was apparently watching the club’s CCTV, took a screen grab and passed it on to a mate.

“It went viral and caused a fair bit of embarrassment for the club.”

Bulldogs apologise over photo leak

Amid reports the leak could have been a deliberate ploy from Canterbury to destabilise Penrith's grand final parade, a contrite Gould contacted the Bulldogs to assure them the image was released without the club's permission.

"I called @PenrithPanthers club today to apologise for the inappropriate leaking of images, taken from security cameras, at Canterbury Leagues," Gould said on social media.

"It was not our doing, nor ever our intention, for such images to become public.

"Out of our control. Apologies to Panther players, fans."

Kikau took to social media after the photo went public to express his "disappointment" and assure Panthers fans that he remains committed to the side for the upcoming season.

“Today photos were taken of me wearing another club’s colours,” Kikau wrote.

“Me and my manager were told the photos wouldn’t become public until the appropriate time.

“I am very disappointed that didn’t happen and regret the upset it has caused.

“I want the Panthers fans to know I remain fully committed to our club and the team for the upcoming season.

“I can’t wait to celebrate our premiership with you.”

with AAP

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