Rugby league's hall of shame

Todd Carney.
Todd Carney.

With the career of rugby league star Mitchell Pearce in doubt following video released of him committing a lewd act with a dog, the Herald looks at the long list of NRL players who have damaged the reputation of the game with off the field acts.

Cronulla Sharks sex scandal

In 2002, a Christchurch woman said a night of group sex involving Cronulla Sharks star Matt Johns led to significant trauma.

Johns admitted he and some of his teammates had sex with the woman at a hotel during a preseason trip but insisted it was consensual.

Police investigated the matter but no charges were laid. Johns later apologised to his family while speaking on Channel Nine's Footy Show.

Canterbury Bulldogs sexual assault scandal

The Canterbury Bulldogs found themselves embroiled in a sex scandal after six players were alleged to have raped a 20-year-old woman in a hotel pool area during a preseason visit to Coffs Harbour in 2004.

The investigation dragged out over a long period before Police eventually dropped the case as a result of insufficient evidence.

The scandal cost the Bulldogs a tremendous amount of money in fines and loss of sponsorship following months of bad press.

Russell Packer's assault conviction

In January 2014, former Kiwis and Warriors forward Russell Packer was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The assault occurred in Sydney's Martin Place when Packer got into a disagreement with another man over cigarettes.

Packer punched the man to the ground and hit him several more times before stamping on his head, leaving the victim with two fractured facial bones.

He was released from jail in January 2015 but had his application to register a contract with the St George-Illawarra Dragons denied, and was forced to play out the season in the second tier NSW Cup.

Late last year, after completing alcohol rehabilitation and education programs at the Dragons, Packer was given the green light to return to the NRL this season.

He was then fortunate to receive a visa clearance to remain in Australia after the Australian government toughened their stance against non-citizens who have broken their laws.

Blake Fergusson sexual assault conviction

In 2013, NSW and former Cronulla and Canberra star Blake Fergusson was banned from the NRL after being found guilty of groping a young woman at a Cronulla nightspot during a boozy night out.

Ferguson indecently assaulted the 24-year-old, but in his not guilty plea, argued he had touched her upper thigh after mistaking her for another woman he had been kissing at another bar earlier that evening.

While serving his ban during 2014, Fergusson joined the Sydney Roosters in a non-playing community relations role but the NRL denied his application to register a playing contract.

After completing counselling and a program of clinical support he was eventually allowed to return to the game in 2015.

Joel Monaghan's lewd act

Late in the 2010 season, Canberra, NSW and Australian winger Joel Monaghan quit the NRL after a photo of him simulating a lewd act with a dog during Mad Monday celebrations appeared on Twitter.

Monaghan made an emotional apology at a press conference where he announced he had sought and been granted a release from the Raiders.

"I don't want to damage this great club anymore because of this stupid prank," Monaghan said.

"They're my actions and I'm totally responsible.

"I'll have to handle the jokes and taunts which is understandable, but the players shouldn't have to put up with pressure that my ongoing presence will bring.

"Alcohol is no excuse. I'd love more than anything to take it back but I can't."

Todd Carney's 'Bubbler' photo

In June 2014, Cronulla Sharks playmaker Todd Carney had his contract torn up after a photo showing him urinating in his own mouth - an act termed 'the bubbler' - appeared online.

The former Dally M medal winner was previously sacked by Canberra and the Sydney Roosters for numerous off-field indiscretions.

In 2008, he was released by the Raiders following an incident at a nightclub in which he was accused of urinating on another patron, and in 2011 he was cut loose by the Roosters for breaking an alcohol ban.

Julian O'Neill's 'poo in the shoe'

No list of rugby league scandals is complete without mention of former Queensland State of Origin fullback Julian O'Neill.

Early in his career he hit the headlines in 1995 when he appeared in court after reportedly urinating under a blackjack table at Jupiters Casino, but the infamous 'poo in the shoe' incident stands out as the worst of his many alcohol-related indiscretions.

The drama unfolded during a 1998 Rabbitohs preseason trip to Dubbo, where he defecated in teammate Jeremy Schloss' shoe.

He was later fined $10,000 by the club and subjected to widespread ridicule after reportedly informing teammates: "I just shat in Schlossy's shoe."

While on a trip to Australia with the Widnes Vikings in 2004, O'Neill allegedly tried to set fire to a highly flammable dolphin mascot suit that a 13-year-old boy was wearing on a river cruise in Port Macquarie.

O'Neill then stripped to his underwear and dived into the Hastings River, swam to shore and hitchhiked back to town.

Gold Coast Titans drugs scandal

In February last year, five players were stood down by the Gold Coast Titans after being charged and issued with notices to appear in court in relation to drug offences by Queensland's Crime and Corruption Commission.

Australian and NSW forward Greg Bird, together with Jamie Dowling, Kalifa Faifai Loa, Beau Falloon and Dave Taylor, were hit with various charges of possession and supply of cocaine.

Former Titans Ashley Harrison, Steve Michaels and Joe Vickery were also charged and ordered to appear in court.

The charges against Bird, Falloon, Harrison and Faifai Loa were later dismissed due to insufficient evidence however the remaining three were committed to stand trial against the charges.

Konrad Hurrell's Snapchat video

In May 2014, then 22-year-old Warriors centre Konrad Hurrell found himself under investigation by the NRL integrity unit over a social media sex tape involving Shortland Street actress Teuila Blakey.

The video, shot on a phone, first appeared on Snapchat and was circulated on Instagram, featured Hurrell driving a car while 39-year-old Blakely performed a sex act on him.

While the pair were consenting adults, the timing of the video's release could not have come at a worse time, as the NRL were launching the Women in League round.

Hurrell later appeared in a video on the Warriors website in which he apologised to the club and his family and friends.

He was hit with a $5000 fine and ordered to undergo counselling.

- NZ Herald

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