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NRL 2020: Brisbane Broncos under police investigation as new details of player lunch emerge

Sporting News logo Sporting News 12/08/2020 Sporting News

The Brisbane Broncos are anxiously awaiting the results of a police probe amid allegations several players drank alcohol and played the poker machines at a Brisbane pub earlier this month.

In a statement on Wednesday the Broncos acknowledged a group of players gathered at the Everton Park Hotel on Saturday, August 1.

The Broncos played the Cronulla Sharks at Suncorp Stadium the previous night after completing a 14-day lockdown following their return from Sydney after playing Wests Tigers in Round 10.

Under the NRL’s biosecurity protocols at the time, players were allowed to visit restaurants and cafes but not pubs, RSLs, Leagues Clubs, Bowls Clubs or Surf Clubs.

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In their statement, the Broncos referred to the gathering as a ‘lunch’.

“The players were of the understanding that lunch at the hotel was permissible under the more-relaxed restrictions which they were under at the time,” the Broncos statement read.

“The club has been working closely with the NRL and provided a range of information as requested, and is awaiting a determination."

However, both Channel Nine News and The Courier Mail on Wednesday reported eye-witnesses allege at least some of the players who attended the gathering were drinking alcohol and visited the venue’s sports bar to play the poker machines.

Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski on Wednesday confirmed a ‘further investigation into potential breaches of the COVID requirements by members of the Broncos is currently underway’.

There are also suggestions some players signed into the venue under fake names.

If the Broncos are found to have breached the NRL’s strict COVID-19 protocols, which were agreed to in conjunction with the Queensland government, the penalties meeted out to the besieged club are expected to be severe.

“I guess if they’re found to have broken protocol we don’t have any excuses, we’ve just got to own it and then deal with the consequences,” Broncos legend and board member Darren Lockyer told Channel Nine.

The latest controversy to engulf the struggling club follows the NRL’s decision to fine Tevita Pangai Junior $30,000 and suspend him indefinitely after he attended a barbershop opening on Saturday.

There are reports the Broncos will sack the star prop in the coming days.

Meanwhile, Allan Langer and two fellow Broncos staff members were this week each fined $5,000 and placed on a 14-day ‘COVID Hold’ after attending a secret birthday bash for the legendary half-back at the Caxton Hotel.

Coach Anthony Seibold must also complete a 14-day quarantine period after he briefly left the Broncos’ bubble to attend to a family emergency following Friday’s loss to the Rabbitohs in Sydney.

The 15th-placed Broncos, who also lost prop Matt Lodge for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, are scheduled to face the Canberra Raiders in the nation’s capital on Saturday.

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