Sydney Roosters co-captain and NSW Origin half Mitchell Pearce’s career is on the brink after disturbing video footage was released of the high-profile 26-year-old drunk and acting offensively at a private address on Australia Day.
The video shows Pearce attempting to kiss a woman, urinating on himself and then simulating a lewd act on a dog. Pearce, who was accompanied by other Roosters players, was then asked several times to leave by the agitated tenants of the apartment, which he eventually did.
This is not Pearce’s first indiscretion, with the infamous ‘woman in the yellow dress’ incident costing him his Blues jumper in 2014. The premiership-winning playmaker was recalled by NSW coach Laurie Daley last year, but this latest furore has clouded Pearce’s future.
It could also have far-reaching implications for the Roosters’ 2016 campaign after they lost James Maloney, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Michael Jennings to rival clubs in the off-season.
Any suspension or stand-down period could prove incredibly damaging to the heavyweight side’s campaign, with 20-year-old utility Jackson Hastings in line to take charge of steering the Tricolours around the paddock in Pearce’s anticipated absence.
While the video was perhaps not as shocking as expected after it was initially reported by Channel Seven, it is a terrible look for player, club and code alike – a PR nightmare that is set to overshadow the weeks leading up to the 2016 NRL premiership.
The NRL and the Roosters both issued statements late on Wednesday.
“The Sydney Roosters are aware of an incident involving Mitchell Pearce,” the club’s statement read.
“The club has advised the NRL’s Integrity Unit. The club will conduct an internal investigation and will be making no further comment at this time.”
An NRL spokesman said, “The Integrity Unit will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately.”
The precedents set by punishments dished out to the likes of Joel Monaghan and Todd Carney in recent years would suggest Pearce can expect a hefty fine and significant time on the sidelines, if not deregistration.
Pearce has played 203 games for the Roosters since debuting as a 17-year-old in 2007, while he has represented NSW in 15 Origin matches from 2008-15.