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Bad boy Broncos: club denies culture crisis

Broncos boss Paul White has rejected suggestions the NRL club is suffering a culture crisis following a spate of off-field incidents.

The Broncos' off-season of issues took another turn on Monday when rising rugby convert Izaia Perese was stood down indefinitely after being charged with drug offences.

Perese was charged with supplying a dangerous drug, possession of a dangerous drug, unlawful possession of a controlled drug and obtaining property from trafficking a dangerous drug. He is due to appear in court on March 9.

Perese, 22, may have played his final game for the Broncos given he will not be considered to return to the club until his court case is finalised.

Perese's charges followed Queensland Origin prop Joe Ofahengaue pleading guilty to an alcohol-related traffic offence in court last week.

 

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Rising star Izaia Perese has been stood down from all duties. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Rising star Izaia Perese has been stood down from all duties. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

Ofahengaue is still waiting for the NRL Integrity Unit to deliver its sanction and there is a chance he could be suspended.

Rising star David Fifita was locked up in a Bali jail for three days last November following the alleged assault of a nightclub bouncer.

Fifita was freed after coughing up $30,000 and he was not sanctioned further by the club or the NRL after the Integrity Unit could not find consistent evidence in its investigation.

Fifita has not spoken publicly about the incident, but there have been suggestions the teenager was the victim of an extortion plot.

 

James Segeyaro. Picture: AAP/Darren England
James Segeyaro. Picture: AAP/Darren England

 

David Fifita. Picture: Supplied
David Fifita. Picture: Supplied

 

Hooker James Segeyaro was provisionally suspended by anti-doping authorities in October after testing positive to a performance enhancing drug.

Segeyaro's case is ongoing and he has indicated he plans to challenge the charges. He is no longer contracted to the club.

The Broncos' 2019 campaign ended in a record 58-0 finals loss to Parramatta and the club was forced to defend itself following revelations a host of players were playing pokies until late the night before the game.

Coach Anthony Seibold has made a raft of changes ahead of his second season in charge, axing Darius Boyd as captain and installing a new-look leadership group.

While the Broncos' indiscretions do not compare to the serious issues players at some rival NRL clubs are facing, the number of incidents since September last year is concerning.

 

Several Brisbane players were seen playing the pokies at Harpoon Harry’s before their record loss to the Eels.
Several Brisbane players were seen playing the pokies at Harpoon Harry’s before their record loss to the Eels.

 

White said he took any off-field issues seriously, but that wasn't an indication of the Broncos' culture and behaviour being on the wane.

"We're concerned with any incident that happens," he told The Courier-Mail.

"I certainly don't believe, and I wouldn't support, the timing of this incident is a yardstick for the culture of our club.

"We work very hard on endeavouring to uphold the standards required of us.

"I remain concerned any time there is an incident with our club. I don't compartmentalise that.

"We respond appropriately. We absolutely respect the responsibility we have for ourselves and the broader community as well.

"Any time we fall short of that standard it disappoints us, but it means we've got to work harder."

 

Joe Ofahengaue. Picture: Liam Kidston.
Joe Ofahengaue. Picture: Liam Kidston.

 

Ofahengaue is expected to learn his fate in the coming days, but Perese's case could take months to be finalised in court.

The former Queensland Reds flyer is off-contract this year and not being allowed to train or play could jeopardise his chances of adding to his two-game tally for the Broncos.

The off-field issues have been an unwelcome distraction for Seibold ahead of a crucial season following last year's finals debacle.

The Broncos started their trial campaign on the weekend and will kick-off the NRL season with a blockbuster clash against North Queensland in Townsville on March 13.

White said the Broncos raised significant funding for local league by playing a trial game in Rockhampton last weekend and the club was always striving to be better.

"Even though at times we will fall short, we'll always accept our responsibility and continue to do what we've always done and that's give back," he said.

"Hopefully, on balance, people see us for that as well."

BRONCOS BAD BOYS

JAMES SEGEYARO

Provisionally suspended by ASADA in October after testing positive to a performance-enhancing substance. Case is ongoing. He has indicated he plans to challenge the charges.

DAVID FIFITA

Locked up in a Bali jail for three days in November following alleged assault of a nightclub bouncer. Freed after paying $30,000 and not sanctioned by Broncos or NRL.

JOE OFAHENGAUE

Fined $1000 and licence suspended for three months after pleading guilty to being in control of a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of 0.136. Awaiting sanction from NRL.

IZAIA PERESE

Stood down by Broncos this week after being charged with multiple drug offences by police. Will face court next month.


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