St George Illawarra are weighing up whether to discipline two players who were involved in a heated “verbal argument” after Saturday’s loss to the Rabbitohs in the Charity Shield at Mudgee.
The Dragons issued a statement to say they were aware of the incident at the team hotel on Sunday morning and according to a Sydney Morning Herald report, winger Mikaele Ravalawa and new recruit Zane Musgrove had to be separated by teammates after their 6am argument in their room spilled outside.
“The club regards this behaviour as unacceptable and will now determine whether any disciplinary action is warranted. The club will make no further comment at this time.”
Ravalawa reportedly told club officials he was too drunk to remember what had happened in the altercation, while Musgrove, who has been involved in a few off-field incidents during his stints at Souths and Wests, was signed by the Dragons in October on a two-year deal after the Tigers released him from the final year of his contract.
Dragons forward Aaron Woods spoke about the incident on the “Footy Talk” podcast on Tuesday.
“We were allowed to have a couple of beers because we don’t play for three weeks now, we’ve got the bye in Round 1,” said Woods. “So it was probably the first opportunity in a while where we get to sit down and bunker in and if we go out, one in all in, we all stick together.
“We had a couple beers there, we went out and ended up coming home and a couple of the boys got a little bit rowdy in their hotel room.
“It was similar to Latrell and Jack Wighton, there was no police involvement with us, but just a little bit of an argument between men, a little bit of wrestling happened and then afterwards we were all best mates again.
“I was at home in bed as I’ve been off the beers for quite a while. We haven’t really addressed it, we haven’t trained yet, we’re in tomorrow, so it’s something we’ll sit down and we will talk about. Obviously, if something has happened….. I’m sure the players that have done something wrong will address it to the group.
“It wasn’t quite the best weekend for the Dragons.”
On the back of successive defeats to St Helens and South Sydney, the drama is the last thing coach Anthony Griffin needs as he tries to save his job heading into the final year of his contract.
The Dragons have gone through an off-season from hell with several incidents putting the club in the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
It started soon after their disappointing 10th-placed finish last season when only three NRL players from the top 30 squad bothered to turn up.
The there was club legend Matt Cooper refusing to turn up to the 2010 grand final reunion due to a feud with the former CEO, chairman Craig Young resigning over his written character reference on a club letterhead for Brett Finch after he was accused of child abuse, young guns Tyrell Sloan and Jayden Sullivan requesting releases then agreeing to stay and Junior Amone and Zac Lomax getting involved in a scuffle at training.
And the club then inflicts more damage upon itself by sending out a survey to members on the contentious issue of the joint-venture’s name, tossing out suggestions that would remove Illawarra and potentially St George as well from the logo.
Amone has been stood down by the NRL over an alleged hammer attack late last year and will not be allowed to play again until the matter has been resolved in court. He has been charged with with reckless grievous bodily harm in company after the incident in December.
On the field, they couldn’t have gone much worse in the pre-season – they kicked it off with a 30-18 loss to St Helens in Wollongong before they were thumped 42-24 by Souths.
First-choice fullback Cody Ramsey has been ruled out for a year with an intestinal problem while young prospect Josh Coric will also not be sighted again until 2023 after tearing an ACL against St Helens.
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Jack De Belin (calf) and Jack Bird (knee) were also injured in the loss to the Super League champions but should be right to start the season.
Sloan is likely to start at fullback after he started there last year there but was axed midway through the season because Griffin was unhappy with his form.
The Dragons have the bye in Round 1 before hosting Gold Coast at Kogarah in the final match of the second round.