Jarryd Hayne has denied having any prior association with an alleged Hells Angels bikie enforcer he was videoed joy-riding with, saying he was just doing what “any human” would do in the situation.
The Gold Coast star also says he never gave $5000 to Chris Bloomfield, a former Titans under-20s player and alleged member of the outlawed bikie club who Hayne insists he only met the day the social media footage was taken.
The Titans began an internal investigation on Tuesday into the Snapchat clip, which also features St George Illawarra-bound winger Nene McDonald.
Hayne and McDonald – who says he crossed paths with Bloomfield for the first time while getting a haircut at the same salon last week – have categorically denied any wrongdoing.
However, their claims appear to be at odds with comments from Bloomfield’s lawyer, who described the incident as “some friends engaging in some tomfoolery which has obviously been blown out of proportion.”
The NRL integrity unit is also looking into the video, apparently filmed after Gold Coast’s loss to Brisbane on Friday.
The Titans have interviewed the players involved and are piecing together the events of the day, which began when a group of players and friends, including Hayne and McDonald, went to a private function room at the Gold Coast Turf Club.
Bloomfield – who is facing extortion charges at Southport Magistrates Court and has a Hells Angels tattoo on his neck – supposedly joined them later in the day and then went to McDonald’s house after the races.
“As any human would do, I said hello to those I came into contact with and was friendly as normal,” Hayne said in a statement released by the Titans.
“I understand Bloomfield filmed a few short Snapchat videos of me rapping to an Eminem song.
“At the time, I was not aware of this person’s history with the law and alleged bikie affiliations.”
Hayne also said the part of the footage that suggests he gave a wad of cash to Bloomfield was a “prank” and that the voice shouting for a cigarette wasn’t his.
In subsequent comments made on his Facebook page, Hayne said it was “impossible” to know or ask every person he meets about their criminal records.
“When I meet people in social settings, I try not to judge them by the way they look. I grew up being taught to always be polite and respectful to all people and I take my responsibility as a role model very seriously,” he said.
“However, I cannot help how people approach or film me.”
But Bloomfield’s lawyer Adam Magill painted a different picture.
“The money was given back to Jarryd straight away,” Magill told the Nine Network.
“This was a couple of friends just mucking around – I can’t put it any simpler than that.”
The Titans said players were entitled to hold end-of-season celebrations but admitted the club has learned a “powerful lesson” from the incident, and would be seeking advice from senior Gold Coast police involved in the recent crackdown on bikies on how players can keep their distance from criminal elements.