The St George Illawarra Dragons have reportedly torn up the final 15 months of Paul Vaughan's contract over a biosecurity breach scandal.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting the former NSW and Kangaroos star will be released from the final 15 months of his NRL deal after he lied to the club about hosting a party at the centre of the drama.
It's set to be a costly blow for Vaughan, with his deal at a reported A$800,000 ($853,373) a year.
Jack de Belin and Corey Norman have appeared to survive the immediate axe.
Dragons CEO Ryan Webb has refused to confirm the futures of any stars at the centre of a biosecurity breach as the club holds an emergency board meeting today.
The twists keep coming in the drama that has sparked widespread fury and condemnation across the game, with the breach involving 13 players potentially threatening the entire competition.
The 13 players were hit with a combined A$305,000 in fines, with Vaughan being slugged with an eight-game ban and the rest of the players copping a one-match suspension, which will be staggered throughout a three-week period.
Vaughan hosted a party at his house with teammates Blake Lawrie, Corey Norman, Daniel Alvaro, Jack Bird, Josh Kerr, Josh McGuire, Kaide Ellis, Matthew Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono, Zac Lomax, Jack de Belin and Gerard Beale attending.
It was revealed the players were specifically told by the club's head of football Ben Haran and coach Anthony Griffin not to celebrate the golden point victory over the Warriors on Friday night.
Some Dragons players allegedly attempted to flee the scene or hide on the premises when the police arrived at Vaughan's home in Shellharbour on the NSW south coast.
Speaking on Fox League's NRL 360, The Daily Telegraph's Paul Kent revealed de Belin hid under the bed when police arrived at Vaughan's home.
Last year, Vaughan was stood down for two weeks after he visited a cafe during biosecurity bubble restrictions. The Sydney Morning Herald has reported the club will look to tear up Vaughan's A$800,000 a year deal immediately.
Webb was asked point blank by 2GB's Ben Fordham "are you going to sack Paul Vaughan?", and he said all options were still on the table.
"We haven't made any decisions or spoken about anything to that degree," he said.
"The board meeting we've got today is really to talk about everything; we weren't sure if we were going to have enough players to fill the team … but I think everything needs to be discussed today.
"No one is happy with what Paul Vaughan has done, actually the whole lot of those boys. I can't pre-empt any discussions and where things will go but everyone's disappointed by what's happened on there and Paul having multiple breaches doesn't help."
Jack de Belin's 'story changed significantly'
Fordham also put de Belin in the crosshairs, with the former Origin star a month into his NRL comeback after being stood down in February 2019 due to sexual assault allegations.
The charges were dropped after the director of public prosecutions decided he would not face a third sexual assault trial, following two hung juries.
"The fact he was there [at Vaughan's house] is the negative," Webb said. "We were originally told that he walked past, dropped something off and kept moving. Then that story changed significantly.
"That's disappointing because we've stood by Jack and the club has been through a lot the last two-and-a-half, three years there. The club deserves better there and we're taking that into consideration."
While the club was cleared of any wrongdoing, Webb confirmed the Dragons encouraged de Belin to come forward to police when they found out the truth.
Fordham asked if de Belin's "future was in doubt too", but Webb said: "I don't want to say anyone's future is in doubt."
Fordham also singled out Corey Norman — who has already been told by the club that his services are not required next year — as a repeat offender who should be shown the door.
Webb was far from happy about reports of a phone hook-up by the players in order to keep their stories straight.
He said the club told the players: "You've done the wrong thing, just be honest."
"To do something like this when there are people in the community like down in Melbourne in that extended lockdown last year, people separated from family and friends and sick members of the family they couldn't visit but these guys go and do this," Webb said.
"It's something you just can't take and we need to have some pretty strong discussions about that today."
In an editorial, Fordham said Vaughan, de Belin and Norman should all be sacked.
"The cover-up is worse than the crime and anyone involved in the cover-up should be shown the door," he said.
"There is no room for selfish, arrogant knuckleheads who can't follow simple instructions. Punt them. They're dopey and dodgy and don't deserve to be playing the game."
Twist amid Dragons stars' lies
Another possible twist was put forward when Fordham asked if there were other girlfriends and wives present at the gathering.
Webb said Vaughan's wife was the only one present, according to the players.
He admitted he questioned whether that was the truth after the slow reveal of lies emerged.
Webb also told Andrew Voss on SEN some of the players weren't honest with the club.
"I think the majority have [been honest], but there were some who weren't," Webb admitted. "I'm not sure why, I don't want to speculate on why they've done that.
"But the majority were [honest], they knew they were doing the wrong thing, I don't know if it's better or worse, it's frustrating.
"They've said, 'Yeah, we've done the wrong thing here we've got to take the hit', but the part they don't all comprehend – well hopefully they do now – is that they're not just taking the hit, the whole club does.
"That's where the frustration lingers, but we have to work on that now."
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo revealed the investigation could be reopened if there is any truth to suggestions players' partners or other people from outside the club's biosecurity bubble were present.
"We will re-open the investigation. That's pretty serious. We've given the players multiple opportunities to tell us everything," Abdo said on Today.
"If there's additional information we will look at it and take significant action if that's the case. if there are repeat offences we will not hesitate to remove people from the bubble."