Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita has been issued a police warning just over a week out from the NRL finals for consorting with known criminals.
It is understood the State of Origin forward was handed the notice on Wednesday by Gangs Squad detectives.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg says the warning should serve as another reminder to players and officials to be careful who they associate with.
“We are determined to work with police to ensure that criminal elements do not infiltrate our game,” Greenberg said in a brief statement.
It’s the fourth time this year police have used the controversial consorting law – designed to tackle organised crime, particularly bikie gangs – to warn a NRL player.
Parramatta star Corey Norman, former Penrith hooker James Segeyaro and ex-Eel Junior Paulo each received similar notices in May.
Norman’s NRL season came to an abrupt halt on July 21 when he was suspended for eight weeks and fined $20,000.
The governing body took a hardline stance after he’d attracted a string of damaging headlines, including pleading guilty after being caught in May with MDMA and muscle relaxants at The Star casino.
On the same night, he was photographed alongside housemate Segeyaro and then-teammate Paulo dining with bikies.
“This reflects poorly on the players involved and is a bad look for the game,” Greenberg said at the time.
“I would expect those who have received warnings to take them very seriously.
“The penalties for ignoring a warning are severe and we fully support the police in the action they have taken.”
It’s not the first time Fifita’s behaviour has come to the attention of the NRL either.
Last year, he was suspended for six matches and fined $30,000 over his abuse of a referee at a junior rugby league match.
The 27-year-old was also required to perform 25 hours of community service, undergo anger management training and issue a written apology to the match officials involved.
His twin brother David, who was also a party to the incident, was banned for six games as well.