Four Canberra Raiders juniors have been sacked by the club after a violent incident last weekend during which at least one player in question was glassed.
The quartet, three of whom were recruited from western Sydney, had played in the Raiders' round one SG Ball side which beat Cronulla on Saturday before the alcohol-fueled incident which is believed to have occurred in a public place in Civic.
Rumours of the melee began circling around the Canberra rugby league community earlier this week. It is understood ACT police were not called to investigate the matter.
Raiders officials learned of the incident early this week, and swiftly terminated all four players who had attempted to cover up the story. The club has stated it will not be commenting on the issue.
The Canberra Times understands one of the sacked players has already signed on to play SG Ball for the remainder of 2021 with another Sydney club.
After being touted as one of the strongest teams in this year's revised SG Ball competition, the incident could prove to be a major on-field blow for the Raiders.
SG Ball, usually an under-18s competition, but will be played as an under-19s league this season after the COVID-19 pandemic ruined last year's competition.
Harold Matthews has also been bumped from under-16s to under-17s, while the NSWRL will also run an under-21s competition, in which the Raiders are not taking part.
They are instead fielding a NSW Cup side for the first time in 14 years, which coach Ricky Stuart plans to use for his fringe first-grade players, and under-21s stars.
The quadruple sacking is the latest chapter in a frustrating offseason for the Raiders, which has also had to deal with drink-driving charges against Corey Harawira-Naera and Corey Horsburgh over the festive period.
Both players are set to face the ACT Magistrates Court to answer the charges, and are also expected to receive a financial penalty and games suspension from the NRL.
Raiders hooker Tom Starling was also involved in a pre-Christmas incident involving NSW police on the Central Coast. After spending the night locked up in Gosford, Starling front court in January and charges against the former Newcastle Knight were dropped.
The Raiders' SG Ball side is due to play Western Suburbs at Campbelltown on Saturday, looking to build on their 28-24 season-opening win over the Sharks.
Canberra's lower-grade junior sides will play their homes games at its old training headquarters in Bruce this season, which will also be used as a base for the NSWRL for the next five years, in partnership with the CIT.
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Under the NSWRL's stewardship, the venue will provide high-performance training facilities for the region's extensive junior base.
It will also be used as a new home for the Belconnen United Sharks in this year's Canberra Raiders Cup competition, and as a base for Monaro representative teams.
The Disability Trust Score Raiders program will also use the facilities.
"One of our objectives is to make sure, we consider ourselves to be a leader in sport," Trodden said.
"If you're a leader in sport and you aspire to be the very best, you've got to give your participants the best facilities. This is as good a facility there is anywhere in NSW in terms of a high performance facility.
"It gives local athletes the opportunities to use the very best facilities, just like all the elite athletes in the NRL have the opportunity to do, and other elite athletes in Sydney have the opportunity to do. [It's] a hugely strategic move for us."
Furner said the NSWRL's involvement at the club's old headquarters was a huge boost for junior rugby league in the region.
"We're the Canberra Raiders but we roll into Cooma, Queanbeyan, Yass, Goulburn, the local competition is thousands of kids from under-6s to first grade," Furner said.
"You've got to give them something to aspire to. You've got to give them the same facilities or as good a facilities as you can get in Sydney or anywhere else.
"We want those country kids coming here, and with the NSWRL stationed here, they will come here. This is an easier stop than heading to Sydney, we're very very lucky that we've got this relationship."