Paul Vaughan has been sacked by St George Illawarra after the prop hosted an illegal party at his home last Saturday which was organised and attended by 12 other Dragons players.
In an emergency meeting on Tuesday, the Dragons board decided to tear up the remaining 15 months of his NRL deal which was worth around $750,000 per season.
Vaughan had already been fined $50,000 by the NRL and slapped with an eight-game ban for breaching COVID-19 protocols by hosting a party at his Shellharbour home, as well as being fined by NSW Police for breaking the health order.
Jack de Belin and other players are also set to cop increased sanctions on top of the one-game suspensions and the $305,000 worth of fines handed out to the group by the NRL on Monday.
All 13 players as well as Vaughan’s partner were fined $1000 by NSW Police, and it has since emerged that de Belin and a handful of others misled authorities, the club and the NRL’s integrity unit to cover up that he had been in attendance.
De Belin told the club he had been walking his dog in the general area of the party and just dropped something off at the house, but it was later alleged he had been hiding from police under a bed.
Adding to the club’s frustration is that Saturday’s party was Vaughan’s second breach of the NRL’s biosecurity rules after he attended a cafe while in the NRL bubble last season.
The ex-NSW and Kangaroos prop was contracted until the end of next season.
His axing comes after Dragons CEO Ryan Webb flagged further club sanctions for the players on Tuesday.
“It’s a pretty massive thing for the club, it’s not something we can solve with some light undertakings,” he told SEN radio.
“There’s going to be some serious repercussions.
“We’ve got to make sure the board is aware of all the intricacies of how this played out and the reaction to everything by each of the players.
“Then we’ll make some decisions of what we want to do as a club.
“There’s a lot of people right now that have lost a lot of trust in our club and we’ve got to try and earn that back.”
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo also slammed the players for putting the competition at risk with a premeditated party while the state deals with an uncertain COVID-19 situation.
“When I think about all that’s at stake and I think about how many people are working incredibly hard to keep our competition going and keep the community safe, yeah, I was gutted,” Abdo told Channel Nine.
“But we’ve worked incredibly hard in two days to get to the bottom of what happened. Our integrity team did a terrific job.
“We’ve now dealt with it. The players understand the consequences and I think it sends a message to all the other players too, that we won’t tolerate any breaches of those protocols. They are critical to keep the season going.”