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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Dragons thought they’d get away with BBQ

St George Illawarra Dragons players believed their illegal BBQ that breached public health orders wouldn’t be a drama solely because they didn’t think they’d get caught.

Ten of the Dragons dirty dozen were read the riot act by ropeable club officials on returning to training on Monday, with Zac Lomax and Daniel Alvaro still absent.

Josh McGuire and Blake Lawrie became the first visitors to Paul Vaughan’s party to front the media on Tuesday, as they tried to talk their way out of the get-together that resulted in $319,000 worth of fines.

Lawrie claimed he never believed he was doing the wrong thing as the players were “in their own bubble”, and had no hesitations going to the July 3 party.

But McGuire admitted he and Jack de Belin had let the club down as senior players and the barbeque was a slap in the face to coach Anthony Griffin after he ordered them to behave.

“We did understand (what we were doing was wrong). We can’t sit here and say we didn’t,” McGuire said. 

“We were in Shellharbour which is a long way away from everything that was happening. 

“The decision to go to the barbeque, every one made. At the end of the day we just thought that there wasn’t going to be a drama and we wouldn’t get caught. 

“We just thought if we kept it within the team it wasn’t going to be a big deal and obviously it is.”

The former Kangaroos lock claimed his call to Griffin the next day was one of the toughest of his career.

But he defended the players who hid in the house when police arrived.

“They were scared of repercussions of what would happen and I think it was just something like fight or flight,” McGuire said.

“A few of us stood there and talked to police and a few boys didn’t want to hang around.”

The consequences of the Dragons’ barbeque will flow on for months, with Vaughan’s contract ripped up and each of the 12 visitors to miss one game.

Lomax and Alvaro are also set to miss at least three matches each, with the pair refusing to sign a sworn version of events of the night and unable to fly into the Queensland bubble until Sunday.

McGuire said he believed that was because they had been given legal advice that they could be liable for any COVID-19 cases in the group.

Meanwhile Lawrie claimed he never thought what he was doing was wrong.

“If it crossed my mind I would have knocked it on the head straight away,” the forward said. 

“But I thought it was just a harmless get together and we’re obviously seeing now how bad it’s affected a lot of people. 

When asked how the players could get it so wrong given that five  million Sydney residents were in lockdown, Lawrie responded: “Because we’re in our own bubble mate. 

“Yeah, we’re in our own bubble. We didn’t think we were going to get away with it. We just thought it harmless.”

AAP

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