Titans board seeks legal advice
The Gold Coast Titans board has sought independent legal advice before making a decision on whether to reinstate three of the five players currently facing drugs charges in Queensland.
The five current members of the Titans squad – Greg Bird, Dave Taylor, Beau Falloon, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Jamie Dowling – each signalled their intention to plead not guilty through their legal representatives in their first court appearance with all cases adjourned until May 8.
The Rugby League Players Association and the players' legal representatives have sought to have the players reinstated immediately but the latest move by the board appears set to keep them on the sidelines for at least a further week.
In a statement released by the club, it was revealed that the board met on Wednesday to discuss the immediate futures of three of the five players but have sought further clarification from prominent Sydney barrister Tony Bannon SC as to what courses of action are available to the club.
"The board remains conscious of the need to balance the protection of the best interests of the club and the game, with the need to ensure its decisions do not prejudice the fair trial of the charged players," the statement read.
"It is expected this process will take a few days to complete and the board will then, after receiving that advice, make its decision as to the immediate playing futures of the three players.
"The players will continue to be stood down until the advice has been received and considered by the board."
Fronting a press conference, Titans CEO Graham Annesley refused to name the three players who have presented what he described as "satisfactory" information to the board and said it was imperative the board receives the highest legal advice available before taking its next step.
"The board obviously has a large responsibility in relation to these matters, there are charges involved that are proceeding through the courts. We also have our own internal contractual issues so if you throw all that into the mix it's quite a complex issue," Annesley said.
"The players have sought legal advice, their lawyers have sought QC's advice and the board just thought it prudent that they should seek their own. It's just purely a matter of making sure that they go to whatever lengths are necessary to make sure that they make the right decisions.
"All along the board's position has been that we need information so we can make decisions. We've received that information in relation to three players; it's now a matter of completing that process, getting the appropriate advice and making their decision.
"The board has a whole suite of options open to them in terms of what they could do in this circumstance and they want to make sure they make those decisions with the benefit of as much knowledge as they can get."
Annesley also stated that he expects to have received information regarding the remaining two players in the coming days at which point their situations will also be examined by Mr Bannon SC.
"Everyone would like this matter to be resolved one way or the other and they would like it to be resolved as quickly as possible. The sooner we can do that the better," he said.
"I expect we will get the information that we are looking for [on the remaining two players] reasonably soon and once we receive that advice we'll also seek Mr Bannon's advice and then the board will make those decisions as well."
Titans coach Neil Henry named an unchanged squad of 18 for the trip to Bathurst to take on the Panthers on Saturday, with the team to fly to Sydney on Thursday afternoon before a bus trip west on Friday morning.