The Mitchell Pearce scandal has deepened with reports the NRL is investigating a text message exchange between his alleged fellow Australia day partygoers that appears to make references to drug use.
On the same day the disgraced Sydney Roosters’ co-captain apologised for his drunken behaviour and cried for professional help, a series of text messages emerged referring to the distribution of “liney lineys”.
Liney lineys is believed to be a drug reference.
The text exchange is understood to include one person who was with Pearce and a number of Roosters players at the Royal Oak Hotel, where they had kicked on after a club-sanctioned boat cruise earlier that day, the Nine Network reported.
The party then carried to an apartment in Bondi, where Pearce was then filmed attempting to kiss a woman, simulating a sex act with a dog and allegedly urinating on a couch.
The texts reveal a person named “Jack” had captured the footage of Pearce in the apartment and considered selling it to “end his career”.
According to the texts, which haven’t been authenticated, they weren’t friends of Pearce’s.
“No none of us were – they were with us at the Oak and they were pretty normal – giving out liney lineys and then they jumped a cab with me back to hers and went ****ing ape shit! Jack just sat there filming it all,” the text read.
The NRL said on its Twitter feed that its integrity unit was in possession of the alleged texts but it wouldn’t be commenting until its investigation was over.
The 26-year-old Pearce, who has been stood down from all club activities, is believed to be preparing to check into a rehabilitation clinic to address his alcohol issues.
A clearly shaken Pearce fronted reporters briefly on Friday in the wake of his disturbing drunk and lewd behaviour.
“I would like to unreservedly apologise to everyone for my actions over the last couple of days,” said a teary Pearce, who did not take questions from reporters.
“My behaviour was unacceptable, I’m embarrassed and take full responsibility for my actions.
“I acknowledge that I have a problem with alcohol and it’s something I need to address.
“It’s not an excuse but a realisation that I finally need help.
“Together with the club, I’m working on a solution to address these issues and it will come out in the next couple of days.”
The NRL is under intense pressure to sack Pearce, but it is increasingly likely he will be spared the axe and will be slapped with a lengthy suspension.
He is also expected to incur a hefty fine, the loss of his co-captaincy and banishment from the NSW State of Origin team.
Roosters recruits Dale Copley and Jayden Nikorima are also facing sanctions from the club.
The pair, signed from Brisbane in the off-season, were at the party and captured in the infamous video.
They will be asked why they did not go home after a Roosters official gave them cab dockets and instead partied on into the early morning.
There is no suggestion of any illicit drug use by Pearce, other Roosters players or other people at the party on that night.
Friday’s apology by Pearce was the second time in less than two years he had been forced to seek forgiveness after embarrassing himself and the game while affected by alcohol.
Two years ago, he was axed from coach Laurie Daley’s NSW side after being arrested for failing to leave a Kings Cross nightclub after management received complaints about his behaviour from a woman in a yellow dress.
After that incident, Pearce promised to mend his ways and work on his leadership skills and described it as a much-needed “kick up the backside”.
Former Newcastle great Andrew Johns backed Pearce to come back from the saga and encouraged him to take responsibility for his actions.
“Firstly, you’ve got to take ownership of your own life after you’ve had a few dramas. You can’t blame anyone else – you’ve just got to take responsibility,” Johns said on Radio Sport.