Off-field dramas blindside NRL Roosters

Sydney Roosters’ NRL title tilt is in danger of unravelling off the field with representative stars Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Michael Jennings to face court this week.

Things could hardly be better for the club on the paddock after their comprehensive 24-0 dusting of the Warriors on Sunday which significantly boosted their hopes of a top four finish.

However, matters are not so rosy away from the football field for the premiership favourites, with Kenny-Dowall due in Waverley Local Court on Thursday over a string of domestic violence allegations. Jennings will front Parramatta Local Court on Monday after he was hit with charges of hindering police and offensive behaviour over an alleged incident last month.

Meanwhile, promising young prop Willis Meehan was sacked by the club over the weekend in the wake of police charges against him in relation to an alleged robbery last month.

In the post-game press conference after the Roosters’ comprehensive win over the Warriors, Roosters coach Trent Robinson moved to defend his club.

“It’s easy for me to say we have a strong club because that’s the way I feel,” he said.

“We have a strong foundation at our club to support people during difficult times. We feel like we have a strong bond and we know our values.”

Robinson said Kenny-Dowall was entitled to the presumption of innocence in the charges brought against him.

“Not playing him today was a welfare decision from the club and the NRL,” Robinson said.

“It’s a difficult time … he is trying to come to terms with it and getting support through his family and friends.

“We don’t condone domestic violence and people have to understand that. We want to eradicate that from our society. (But) there is always due process and there are two sides to every story. We need to support him until that point.”

Kenny-Dowall’s arrest grabbed most of the headlines at the end of a round that began with Cameron Smith ringing in his 300th NRL game in Melbourne’s 52-10 shellacking of Penrith on Friday night at AAMI Park.

In Sydney on Friday, Josh Jackson starred as Canterbury easily accounted for Parramatta 28-4 at ANZ Stadium.

Valentine Holmes kicked the match-winner in Cronulla’s controversial 21-20 golden point win over Canberra in the nation’s capital on Saturday afternoon.

Dane Gagai was rushed to hospital during Newcastle’s 30-2 thrashing of Gold Coast at Hunter Stadium on Saturday evening. The Queensland star was discharged on Sunday but will continue to undergo further cardiologist assessments as a precaution.

South Sydney handed St George Illawarra their sixth successive loss, beating them 24-8 at the SCG on Saturday night.

Lachlan Maranta scored three tries for top-of-the-table Brisbane in their 42-16 victory over last placed Wests Tigers on a rare Sunday afternoon at Suncorp Stadium.

The NRL’s round 19 concludes on Monday night when Manly host North Queensland at Brookvale Oval.

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