PENRITH have sacked under-20s player Jake Galvin for his part in a vicious assault on a 77-year-old Pizza Hut delivery driver.
Galvin, 18, and former Keebra Park High schoolmate Isaac Hekenui were convicted of assault and robbery in Southport District Court after ordering four pizzas and then attacking Arthur Taylor to steal them. The court was told that Hekenui punched Taylor unconscious and Galvin grabbed the pizzas, which they ate while watching the third State of Origin match in last year's series at another friend's house.
Taylor was left with a jaw injury and had a heart attack on his way to his hospital.
Galvin told police that Hekenui had complained of having no money for food and said he wanted ''to find someone to rob''. Hekenui also pleaded guilty in court to two separate violent robberies in 2011 and was given three five-year sentences which are to be served concurrently.
Having already served 463 days in custody, he will be eligible for parole in April.
Galvin, whose barrister James McNab said was ''extremely remorseful'', received a 12-month suspended sentence.
The incident occurred before Galvin joined the Panthers this season on a two-year contract.
''On the basis of new information now available to the club, a decision has been made to terminate Jake's contract,'' a club statement said.
''Jake's behaviour and work ethic since arriving at the Panthers had been nothing short of exemplary. The Panthers wish Jake all the best with his future endeavours.''
Penrith's general manager Phil Gould told Channel Nine: ''It's behaviour we can't tolerate.''
Elsewhere, retired Test and Origin five-eighth Darren Lockyer believes the influx of English players into the NRL competition could help, rather than hinder, rugby league in Britain.
With North Queensland signing English hooker Scott Moore and Parramatta set to sign Wigan second-rower Gareth Hock to join the likes of the Burgess brothers and James Graham in the NRL, Lockyer said the moves would help bring the English national side closer to Australia.
''It would be a great experience for him (Hock) and it can only help the English national team,'' Lockyer said. ''Players come back feeling more confident about their footy and if fewer Australians come to Super League, there are more pathways and opportunities for local talent, which can only be a good thing.''
Lockyer, in the UK to promote next year's World Cup, has also weighed into rugby league's eligibility debate, saying players who miss out on selection for Australia, New Zealand and England for the tournament must be allowed to play for other countries.
''Those developing nations at the moment need all the support they can get and if we can get the services of some NRL players, that's only going to benefit them,'' Lockyer told nrl.com.
Former Queensland prop Martin Lang has joined Gold Coast Titans as the club's assistant strength and conditioning coach. Lang, a fearless front-rower when at Penrith, is also likely to mentor younger players.