North Queensland players have conflicting opinions on whether prop Scott Bolton will be playing the Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval on Saturday night, but they insist players are entitled to downtime between games.
With Bolton back in Townsville with his wife and family, his Cowboys teammates were grilled about the events of Saturday night after they posted an upset 26-20 win over top-four flyers Penrith at Bathurst the night before.
Bolton was charged with indecent assault on Sunday after a woman came forward to NSW Police.
The Cowboys have set up camp at Bondi Beach due to the short turn-around between rounds nine and 10 matches. He is due to face Waverley Local Court on June 19.
On Monday, teammates Ben Hampton and Michael Morgan were unsure if Bolton would return to Sydney for the Tigers game.
Former Brisbane Broncos Francis Molo has been brought down to join the NRL squad as back-up.
"He hasn't been stood down by the club or the NRL. He's just gone home to be with family – that's his main priority at the moment, him and his family," winger Kyle Feldt said, when asked if he expected Bolton to play on Thursday.
Five-eighth Michael Morgan wasn't so sure.
"I'm honestly not too sure. But we've got depth in that position so it'll be up to the club and up to Bolts and how he feels," Morgan said.
"Probably rugby league, or playing football, is not the first thing on his mind at the moment. It is only a short week so we've got to move on pretty quickly football-wise.
"We'll do our best to prepare as normal because in-house we'll be able to concentrate okay. We're concerned about Bolts and his welfare but we'll still be thinking footy leading into the game."
Centre Ben Hampton added: "I'm not sure what Greeny [coach Paul Green] is going to do there. But I'm sure there's someone on the roster who can play."
Molo, who at 115kg has been in cracking form for the Townsville Blackhawks in the Intrust Super Cup, seems to be that man.
But Bolton, if he doesn't play, will be missed since his 215 NRL game experience and his considerable size would be key to facing Tigers big men like Ben Matulino, Sauaso Sue, Michael Chee-Kam and Tim Grant.
- Cowboys prop Bolton charged with indecent assault
- Cowboys breathe life back into season with win over Panthers
Both Morgan and Feldt said the team felt justified in seeking each other's company for a meal and a drink after the strong win in Bathurst – just their third of the Telstra Premiership season.
"There's no problem with it. After a hard day at work, you'd enjoy a cold beer wouldn't you?" Feldt said
"That's just everyone ... everyone in Australia. We all like a beer. After a hard-earned match, we decided to have a beer and that's that."
Morgan was asked why the social occasion had been stretched out to several hours, and whether the public was justified in thinking players should moderate behaviour more often.
"Those views will come. But reports of people being out for 10 hours are ridiculous because that wasn't the case at all," he said.
"People will have a view anyway, whether we do go out for a beer or not.
"It's a shame that these things coming up give people that view I guess. We're entitled to get together and have some downtime and socialise."