Mitchell Pearce’s long-term future remains clouded as the NRL’s investigation into his boozy Australia Day night looks set to enter a third week.
While the Sydney Roosters star addresses his alcohol problems at an overseas rehabilitation clinic, the club has been working with the governing body to work out a proper punishment.
The NRL’s integrity unit is also looking at the possible use of drugs on the night in question following the emergence of unauthenticated texts between fellow partygoers.
But a combination of this weekend’s NRL Auckland Nines and no chief executive at Roosters HQ means an outcome is unlikely to be reached this week.
Head coach Trent Robinson will also be in New Zealand, where all 16 clubs have been warned by NRL integrity unit boss Nick Weeks to be on their best behaviour.
According to a News Corp report, Weeks sent a letter to all 16 chief executives after yet another off-field incident at the Emerging Queensland State of Origin camp this week.
“After a generally positive off-season we are working through some recent incidents of player misconduct that are damaging to the game,” Weeks wrote.
“At the December meeting we discussed the importance of avoiding any off-field incidents during the Auckland 9s.
“I want to enlist the support of each of you to ensure the behaviour of your players and staff is impeccable.”
The NRL adviser on women’s issues, Professor Catharine Lumby, has led a chorus of those calling on Pearce to be dumped from the game after he was captured on video attempting to kiss a woman, simulating sex with a dog, and allegedly urinating on a couch.
At the very least, the 26-year-old is certain to lose the captaincy, miss this month’s World Club Series in England, draw a heavy fine and cop a lengthy suspension.
The NSW State of Origin star is also likely to be banished from the Blues this year.
But, at most, Pearce could be de-registered and face a 12-month ban from the game.
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.
Neither Copley nor Nikorima were named by Robinson for this weekend’s Nines tournament, joining a host of big-name stars wrapped in pre-season cotton wool.
Blake Ferguson, Jackson Hastings, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jake Friend, Mitchell Aubusson and Boyd Cordner will all stay at home.
Prop Dylan Napa is also being investigated by the Queensland Rugby League for allegedly breaking curfew at the Emerging Origin camp.
The Roosters’ only trial is against St Helens on February 19, before starting their NRL season against arch rivals South Sydney on March 6.