Sydney Roosters star Mitchell Pearce faces a nervous wait as his club and the NRL determine whether to expel him from the game over his lewd behaviour.
The NSW State of Origin five-eighth has been stood down indefinitely from club activities while the Roosters investigate the events that led to the airing of footage of him simulating a sex act with a dog.
Pearce’s drunken stupor at an Australia Day party is almost certain to draw a heavy fine, as well as the end of his co-captaincy, but it’s his immediate playing future that is shrouded in doubt.
The NRL adviser on women’s issues, Professor Catharine Lumby, led a chorus of those calling for his head on Thursday, and hinted at stepping down from her role should Pearce be given a stay of execution.
“If the approach of the NRL changes and there is a slap on the wrist, I’d be very disappointed and I’d probably look at whether I was of use to the NRL,” she told the Seven Network.
The club’s major sponsor Steggles admitted it was concerned by the video, which also showed Pearce attempting to kiss a woman – who seconds earlier rebuffed him – and allegedly urinating on himself.
It is the second time in two years that the 26-year-old has been in trouble for off-field misdemeanours.
The heat is on to deregister Pearce from the NRL.
A final decision is unlikely to be made in the near future, given both the governing body and the Roosters are without a chief executive.
The fact that fellow NRL club Cronulla are also in a Supreme Court battle, over Todd Carney’s scandalous axing due to the infamous “bubbler” photo, will also ensure due process is fully followed.
The manager-less Pearce has already apologised to the club and his teammates for behaviour that coach Trent Robinson described as unacceptable.
“The behaviour was unacceptable, we understand that and, at the Roosters, we can’t accept that – we won’t,” Robinson said.
Roosters recruits Jayden Nikorima and Dale Copley were reported to have been present at the party and have since been interviewed by the club.