Warriors assistant coach Craig Hodges has taken aim at St George Illawarra Dragons players and their reasoning behind attending a house party and breaking Covid-19 protocols.
The Dragons have been at the centre of the NRL's latest virus-related debacle, which saw 13 of their players attend a party on Saturday night.
The actions broke strict biosecurity rules laid out by New South Wales Public Health and the NRL, for which clubs based in the state must abide.
The league took swift action, suspending prop Paul Vaughan - who was the host of the party - for a hefty eight games and fining him $50,000 AUD. However, the biggest blow the 30-year-old prop had to take came from his employer, as St George Illawarra terminated his $800,000-a-season contract, which had 15 months remaining on it.
The NRL also punished 12 other Dragons players suspending them for one match each and handing out fines totalling $255,000 AUD.
Hodges told Newstalk ZB's D'Arcy Waldegrave he doesn't know all the details, but one particular comment – which doubled as reasoning behind the players' actions – piqued his interest.
"I did see one comment that said they needed to let off a bit of steam. We've got guys here who have lived 18 months away, not only from their families and houses but have lived away from their country," Hodges said.
"All those guys [at the Dragons] get to live in their own houses with their own families in their own communities, and they're saying they were disadvantaged by being locked up.
"We're locked up over here currently, we're not allowed to go for a walk down the street, we can't go out in public, apart from training or playing we're not allowed to leave our unit. We've got guys doing that thousands of kilometres away from their homes so I think if our guys can make that type of sacrifice, I'm sure they can live in their houses with their families, in their community and should be able to follow the rules.
"They're not tough rules particularly when you think if the competition gets suspended or shut down, the players' pay stops – they lose money. So the competition keeps going they keep getting paid so that's a pretty decent incentive to do the right thing."
By contrast to their on-field rivals, the Warriors are in the midst of a second consecutive campaign away from their home country and on the Central Coast, as the pandemic continues to limit their ability to travel.
Vaughan appeared on Fox Sports Australia's NRL 360 to express his remorse, adding he is worried about the impact it will have on his family following his sacking from the Dragons.
The Sydney-based club revealed Vaughan's expulsion is "as a result of now a number of breaches that include and predate the current matter". His previous Covid-related indiscretion was in 2020, where he was caught using an alias to attend a cafe.
The Warriors have battled a Covid-19 scare of their own when forward Josh Curran and centre Euan Aitken were classified as close contacts, after travelling on a Virgin Australia flight late last month, where a cabin crew member tested positive. They are still completing their mandatory two-week isolation period.
The lone New Zealand club will make its long-awaited return to Mount Smart Stadium on August 15 when the Bulldogs travel across the ditch to Auckland.