The St George Illawarra Dragons have reportedly torn up the final 15 months of Paul Vaughan’s contract over the biosecurity breach scandal.
The Daily Telegraph is reporting former NSW and Kangaroos star will be released from the final 15 months of his deal after he lied to the club about hosting the party at the centre of the drama.
It’s set to be a costly blow for Vaughan with his deal at a reported AU$800,000 a year.
Jack de Belin and Corey Norman have appeared to survive the immediate axe.
The Australian reported earlier on Tuesday that Vaughan’s contract “states that if the club is of the opinion that the player has breached his contract, he can be brought before the board to show cause why action should not be taken”.
The club then has several options, including terminating the contract with immediate effect.
It comes after Dragons CEO Ryan Webb refused to confirm the futures of any stars at the centre of a biosecurity breach as the club holds an emergency board meeting held on Tuesday morning.
The twists keep coming in the drama that has sparked widespread fury and condemnation across the game, with the breach involving 13 players potentially threatening the entire competition.
The 13 players were hit with a combined $305,000 in fines with Paul Vaughan being slugged with an eight-game ban and the rest of the players copping a one-match suspension, which will be staggered throughout a three-week period.
Vaughan hosted a party at his house with teammates Blake Lawrie, Corey Norman, Daniel Alvaro, Jack Bird, Josh Kerr, Josh McGuire, Kaide Ellis, Matthey Dufty, Tyrell Fuimaono, Zac Lomax, Jack de Belin and Gerard Beale attending.
The players will reportedly be made to front the board to explain their actions and apologise publicly.
It was revealed the players were specifically told by the club’s head of football Ben Haran and coach Anthony Griffin not to celebrate the golden point victory over the Warriors on Friday night.
Some Dragons players allegedly attempted to flee the scene or hide on the premises when the police arrived at Vaughan’s home in Shellharbour on the NSW south coast.
Speaking on Fox League’s NRL 360, The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent revealed de Belin hid under the bed when police arrived at Vaughan’s home.
Last year, Vaughan was stood down for two weeks after he visited a cafe during biosecurity bubble restrictions.
Webb was asked point blank by 2GB’s Ben Fordham “are you going to sack Paul Vaughan?”, and said all options were still on the table.
“No one is happy with what Paul Vaughan has done, actually the whole lot of those boys,” Webb said on Tuesday morning. “I can’t pre-empt any discussions and where things will go but everyone’s disappointed by what’s happened on there and Paul having multiple breaches doesn’t help.”
Jack de Belin’s ‘story changed significantly’
Fordham also put de Belin in the crosshairs with the former Origin star a month into his NRL comeback after being stood down in February 2019 due to sexual assault allegations. The charges were dropped after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided he would not face a third sexual assault trial, following two hung juries.
“The fact he was there (at Vaughan’s house) is the negative,” Webb said. “We were originally told that he walked past, dropped something off and kept moving. Then that story changed significantly.
“That’s disappointing because we’ve stood by Jack and the club has been through a lot the last two-and-a-half, three years there. The club deserves better there and we’re taking that into consideration.”
While the club was cleared of any wrongdoing, Webb confirmed the Dragons encouraged de Belin to come forward to police when they found out the truth.
Fordham asked if de Belin’s “future was in doubt too” but Webb said: “I don’t want to say anyone’s future is in doubt.”
Fordham also singled out Corey Norman — who has already been told by the club that his services are not required next year — as a repeat offender who should be shown the door.
Webb was far from happy about reports of a phone hook-up by the players in order to keep their stories straight.
He said the club told the players: “You’ve done the wrong thing, just be honest.”
“To do something like this when there are people in the community like down in Melbourne in that extended lockdown last year, people separated from family and friends and sick members of the family they couldn’t visit but these guys go and do this,” Webb said.
“It’s something you just can’t take and we need to have some pretty strong discussions about that today.”
In an editorial, Fordham said Vaughan, de Belin and Norman should all be sacked.
“The cover-up is worse than the crime and anyone involved in the cover-up should be shown the door,” he said.
“There is no room for selfish, arrogant knuckleheads who can’t follow simple instructions. Punt them. They’re dopey and dodgy and don’t deserve to be playing the game.”