The Sydney Roosters have stood down skipper Mitchell Pearce after he was filmed simulating a lewd act with a dog during drunken Australia Day celebrations.
“The club wishes to advise that Mitchell Pearce has been stood down from all training commitments until the club concludes its internal investigation,” the statement said.
“The club continues to work closely with the NRL Integrity Unit and will be making no further comment at this time.”
The club may also strip Pearce of his captaincy, fine him up to $50,000 and ban him from taking part in the World Club Challenge in England next month, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Roosters announced on Wednesday night they would conduct an internal investigation while the NRL awaited a report from the Roosters into the incident.
“The Integrity Unit will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately,” read the NRL statement.
The RPSCA has also said it will investigate the incident.
“RSPCA NSW is appalled by footage showing NRL player Mitchell Pearce engaging in a lewd act with a dog,” it tweeted on Thursday.
Video footage of the incident was aired by the Nine Network’s A Current Affair on Wednesday night. It shows a clearly intoxicated Pearce trying to kiss a woman before simulating a sex act on a dog and being accused of urinating on himself and furniture after the woman had rejected his advances.
Earlier in the day Pearce had posted Instagram photos of himself and Roosters teammates embarking on a Sydney harbour cruise following an early morning training session on the public holiday.
Pearce is no stranger to controversy having been fined $20,000 and suspended after an incident in which he was ejected from a Sydney nightclub.
Former NRL bad boy Mark Geyer has called for Mitchell Pearce to be given a 12-month NRL ban and said the player needs help.
“He needs to be suspended for 12 months, get a real job away from football and undergo both counselling and rehab,” Geyer told Triple M on Thursday.
“He needs to be taken out of the system that he joined as a kid to appreciate what he’s got.
“He is obviously powerless when affected by alcohol and cannot control his behaviour.
“Pearce needs help and needs to be as far away from footy as possible.”
Former Newcastle and Cronulla star Matthew Johns, who was embroiled in a 2002 group sex scandal in New Zealand, agreed with Geyer and said Pearce’s on-field achievements would now be overshadowed.
“The most difficult thing for Mitchell is the fact that what it does to your loved ones, the embarrassment it causes your loved ones,” Johns said.
Former Roosters forward Jimmy Smith said he believed the club was left with no choice but to sack Pearce.
“To be honest it’s not the crime of the century. In saying that, as a captain of an NRL club it is completely unacceptable,” he told Fox Sports News.
“As a result of that I think the Roosters are left with very little option.”
The Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) issued a statement on Wednesday night saying it was not appropriate to comment on the circumstances of the case without knowing all the facts but it would provide Pearce with “appropriate well-being support as needed”.