The Sydney Roosters have stood down skipper Mitchell Pearce after he was filmed simulating a lewd act with a dog during drunken Australia Day celebrations.
"The Club wishes to advise that Mitchell Pearce has been stood down from all training commitments until the club concludes its internal investigation," the statement said.
"The Club continues to work closely with the NRL Integrity Unit and will be making no further comment at this time."
Pearce is also reportedly to be stripped of his captaincy and fined up to $50,000 by his club. The NRL is likely to impose at least a six-month suspension and his club will add an immediate sacking clause to his contract to be triggered by any further misbehaviour, News Corp reports.
The NSW State of Origin player is also expected to be barred from travelling to England next month for the World Club Challenge and abide by a booze ban.
An intoxicated Pearce can be seen in a video shown by the Nine Network's A Current Affair forcing an unwanted kiss on a female, who rejects his advances and clearly states "I am a lesbian," before he kisses her.
Pearce then turned his attention to the woman's dog, announcing: "I'll f*** that dog, I don't give a f***, I don't have a sexuality."
Pearce, who was shirtless but wearing shorts, is then seen to simulate sex with the dog.
The woman tells him to stop but Pearce continues to simulate sex with the animal before the woman takes the dog away and tells him to leave.
Pearce again states what he would like to do to the animal.
"I want to f*** your dog, I don't even care anymore."
The woman then suggests Pearce had also urinated on her couch.
'HE WON'T LIVE IT DOWN'
League commentator Andrew Voss told the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast that social media 'crimes' are often worse to a player's reputation than actual crimes.
"He won't live it down and that's the biggest punishment he can possibly have. Anything the Roosters do or the NRL do, I'd say plays a second fiddle to what he's done to his family," Voss told Radio Sport.
"I've learnt in rugby league, 'crimes' caught on social media, and what Mitchell Pearce has done here isn't a crime, are dealt with harsher than the crimes against the laws of the land.
"Players like Russell Packer can serve jail time and make it back into rugby league while those such as Joel Monaghan, Todd Carney and now Mitchell Pearce, they can be chased out of the country and never welcomed again to play in the game because they can't live it down.
Voss said Pearce should be aware of the dangers of social media and has no sympathy for him.
League commentator Andrew Voss talks to the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast about the Mitchell Pearce scandal:
"I don't think anyone would want to be caught when they are drunk and have it replayed to them the next day. I think all of us might be a little embarrassed. But the fact of the matter is, this is the way it is. He's been caught on a mobile phone, he's been filmed, if the penny hasn't dropped for the players that this can blow up in your face big then I can't make an apology for that because others have been caught.
"If Mitchell Pearce isn't aware of this is how things work these days then I can't have sympathy for him. He just gets dealt with any way the league wants to. If that means he can't play this year then I can live with that," Voss said.
A Roosters official told News Corp the club would oversee counselling sessions for the 26-year-old halfback and insist he goes on a permanent booze ban.
"Mitchell obviously needs to be severely punished but he also needs professional help", the official said.
"At this stage he'll lose the captaincy, be heavily fined and we won't take him to England."
Club chairman Nick Politis is expected to insert a new clause in Mitchell's contract stipulating if he sets another foot out of line off-field, the Roosters will rip up his existing deal, News Corp reports.
This is not the first time Pearce has found himself in trouble because of issues with alcohol.
In 2014, he was fined $20,000 by the Roosters after a nightclub incident in Kings Cross where a female patron complained about his advances and he was asked to leave the venue.
After that incident, he went on a self-imposed alcohol ban.
The latest episode casts a shadow over his footballing future, especially in the wake of Todd Carney's banishment from the NRL for an alcohol-fuelled incident in 2014 at a Cronulla night spot.
In 2010, Canberra released representative centre Joel Monaghan after a lewd act with a dog during the Raiders' Mad Monday celebrations.
The Roosters announced on Wednesday night they would conduct an internal investigation while the NRL awaited a report from the Roosters into the incident.
"The Integrity Unit will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately," read the NRL statement.
The Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) issued a statement on Wednesday night saying it was not appropriate to comment on the circumstances of the case without knowing all the facts but it would provide Pearce with "appropriate wellbeing support as needed".
Australian sports broadcaster Jim Dolan talks to the Crowd Goes Wild Breakfast about the Mitchell Pearce scandal:
Betting on the Sydney Roosters' opening-round clash against South Sydney was immediately suspended as soon as it emerged video footage of Pearce's boozy Australia Day celebrations was about to be played on national TV.
The TAB has also pulled down its market on NRL teams to miss the top eight, and will keep it down until the Pearce matter is resolved.
The Chooks were $3.40 to miss the finals before the TAB suspended betting. They were the raging $1.65 favourites to beat Souths in round one.
But with no James Maloney, Michael Jennings, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and now possibly Pearce missing from last year's backline, the Roosters will do it tough against a Bunnies side who welcome the return of Sam Burgess.
"We've suspended these two markets to protect the punters who wouldn't have known about these Mitchell Pearce allegations," the TAB's Glenn Munsie said prior to the Pearce footage going to air.
Mitchell Pearce is a disgrace. I always give sports stars the benefit of the doubt, but his actions are disgusting. #NRL— Keegan (@keeganxo_) January 27, 2016
The woman hosting the party asked Mitchell Pearce to leave. Multiple times. Why didn't his friends escort him out the first time she asked?— Asher Wolf (@Asher_Wolf) January 27, 2016
Absolutely disgusting behaviour by Mitchell Pearce...but to the guy who videoed it, egged him on & posted for the world, idiot as well!— Kate Wall (@TheKateWall) January 27, 2016