Rugby League

Queensland Maroons in tatters as eight players banned after boozy night

Queensland's State of Origin defence has been thrown into disarray with Anthony Milford, Ben Hunt and Dylan Napa among eight players to be suspended as the fallout from the Maroons boozy training camp continues.

Hunt, Napa, Milford, Jarrod Wallace, Edrick Lee and Chris Grevsmuhl join Cameron Munster and Valentine Holmes to be banned from Origin this year after the Queensland Rugby League confirmed the players broke curfew last weekend. 

Origin ban: Ben Hunt
Origin ban: Ben Hunt Photo: Bradley Kanaris

Holmes was fined $1412 for obstructing police and causing a public nuisance during the boozy session. He was also stood down from Cronulla's Auckland Nines squad.

The camp, which was Kevin Walters' first since taking over as coach from Mal Meninga, was meant to fast-track the development of the state's best young players.

But instead it has derailed the representative careers of the eight players who were confirmed on Friday to be banned from Maroons duties for 12 months.

"Obviously I'm disappointed with the actions of the players but in the same token we need to protect the Queensland Rugby League State of Origin team," Walters said.

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"What they did in the circumstances that was explained to them and the environment they live in now, they just need to be making some smart choices and unfortunately for them they didn't and we have to act accordingly. I'm more than happy with the honesty the players showed but obviously extremely upset about what has happened.

"They know they made a poor decision and they're quite upset about it. You have to be responsible for everything that you do. If you can't be responsible then you don't drink. We're trying to protect the brand of Queensland Rugby League and State of Origin. I just felt if these players couldn't understand the clear instructions given to them then it's probably not their time at the moment to be involved in the next level."

Walters interviewed all players individually following the drama at this year's emerging camp, with QRL managing director Robert Moore explaining how they reached the decision.

"Our initial focus was on Valentine Holmes because of the involvement of the NRL Integrity Unit," Moore said.

"As we suspected, there were other players who broke curfew and we have now gone through a process of interviewing players. Due to pre-season commitments, we've only been able to finalise that today.

"To the players' credit, they've come forward and because of the importance we place on our QAS Emerging Origin program, they will receive the same sanction as Cameron Munster."

Moore said in light of the sanction imposed on Valentine Holmes by Cronulla and his ongoing commitment to working with the club's Welfare and Education team, the QRL would apply no further sanction in addition to his 12-month ban.

None of the eight players banned has represented Queensland, however the Roosters' Napa was Queensland's 18th man for game one of last year's series.

Brisbane Broncos halfback Ben Hunt hasn't played State of Origin but has represented the Kangaroos. Luckily for Queensland, they have plenty of talent in the halves with Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Daly Cherry-Evans at their disposal.

Meantime, South Sydney back-rower John Sutton has rubbished rumours of unrest at Redfern and has promised to present a united front during their NRL Auckland Nines defence.

The Rabbitohs were forced to shoot down suggestions halfback Adam Reynolds had asked for a release while five-eighth Luke Keary stormed out of an earlier team bonding camp after a heated argument with club owner Russell Crowe.

There is growing speculation about the future of both at Redfern as back-up playmaker Cody Walker's stocks continue to rise with the club opening up contract extension negotiations with the former Queensland Cup player of the year.

While it's been reported superstar forward Sam Burgess' return has created a schism, Sutton says suggestions of discontent within Michael Maguire's unit are inflated.

"That's just all rumours, I never read the papers because of all the bull****," Sutton said.

"But everyone is sweet at training and it doesn't affect us."

with AAP

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