Former Canberra Raiders skipper Alan Tongue says the lewd scandal that has rocked Mitchell Pearce's career will serve as a warning for all NRL players.
But Tongue, the man who led Canberra through some dark days involving off-field incidents, says football must be put aside to allow Pearce to address any alcohol problems and make "tough decisions" on his future.
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Mitchell Pearce and his actions
Fairfax's Andrew Webster shares his opinion on the Mitchell Pearce video.
Sydney Roosters co-captain Pearce has been stood down by the club as it investigates the video which filmed Pearce trying to kiss a woman, simulating a sex act with a dog and urinating on a couch on Australia Day.
The Raiders have taken a tough stance on player behaviour in the past, tearing up contracts of Josh Dugan, Todd Carney, Bronx Goodwin and Blake Ferguson for alcohol-fuelled incidents, while Joel Monaghan quit in tears after a photo drama in 2010.
Tongue has been through it all and witnessed the devastating effects on players, teammates and families when incidents like Pearce's moment of madness go viral.
"There are going to be some really tough decisions to be made, but at the end of the day you have to put football aside and he [Pearce] really needs to address these issues," Tongue said.
"Unfortunately a lot of the damage has been done and this is going to live with him for the rest of his life.
"He's caused some heartache for himself and his family, so it's going to be tough. But it's a real warning sign for the rest of the players.
"We continue to do the hard work with the education in the background, but our game reflects society. Do we have binge-drinking problems in society? Yeah, we do. But [Pearce] is in a privileged position, is the captain of a football club, he's a grown man and should know better.
"I applaud our game that gives second chances to people because it is a young man's game and we get a lot of kids thrown into the system and the limelight when they're trying to work out their lives.
"I didn't work out who I was until I was 24 or 25, I made mistakes. It's a hard thing ... we've got to keep educating the players and fast-track them at a young age."
Pearce has reportedly apologised to Roosters coach Trent Robinson, who said his star playmaker's behaviour was "unacceptable".
The matter has been referred to the NRL's integrity unit, and it has been suggested Pearce would be fined and suspended, but opinion was divided on what punishment would be suitable.
Tongue said the Raiders made tough decisions in the past to sack players to take a stance for the club's culture and try to drive it into the future.
The retired hard-working forward now works with the NRL in helping educate players in the "Voice Against Violence" program, which is designed to create conversations with men in rugby league about domestic violence.
"With my own journey, doing an apprenticeship was really, really valuable for me and that's something I keep trying to pass on to our players now," Tongue said.
"It gives you a real sense of what reality is ... and from there you never look back because you know how lucky you are.
"For a club, it's important for the people that support you that you do take a tough stance. Mitchell has some alcohol problems ... the hardest thing is if you know Mitchell Pearce, he's a good guy and comes from a wonderful family. Alcohol has some demons and that needs to be addressed."