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Walker banned two games for kicking incident, Souths cop hefty fine

South Sydney star Cody Walker has been suspended for two matches and the Rabbitohs have been hit with a $20,000 fine for failing to inform the NRL of his involvement in an off-field incident in December.

He will miss the opening two games of the restructured season for Souths - a grudge match against the Roosters next Friday followed by a trip to Melbourne to face the Storm a week later.

Walker has also been served a suspended $15,000 fine, while the Rabbitohs will have five days to respond to the $20,000 breach notice issued for not informing the Integrity Unit of the incident.

Walker was cleared by police this week over his involvement in a fight in his home town of Casino late last year, and told coach Wayne Bennett of the incident at the time.

The NRL however was not made aware of the matter until Walker approached police recently, alleging that he had blackmailed over the release of footage in which he kicked a man in the chest, in turn prompting the Integrity Unit's investigation.

"All clubs and club officials have a duty to report any incident which may lead to a breach of NRL rules, including suspected breaches, and NRL Clubs are responsible for ensuring compliance," the NRL said in a statement.

The Rabbitohs response indicated the club will be taking the five-day notice period "to consider its position."

Walker too has five days to respond to his individual notice, but is provisionally suspended from playing in that period.

Su'A says Dargan will step up if Walker unavailable

The NRL has also upheld the respective fines and bans for Josh Addo-Carr, Latrell Mitchell and Tyrone Roberts-Davis for breaching social distancing laws last month.

Rookie playmaker Troy Dargan is set to come into contention for a first-grade debut after stints at Parramatta and Brisbane to partner skipper Adam Reynolds in the halves.

Meanwhile, Souths are hopeful centre James Roberts can return for next Friday's clash with the Roosters after a recent stint in a rehabilitation centre but the club is yet to receive official approval from the NRL under the strict biosecurity regulations.

Rabbitohs hopeful Roberts could still return for Round 3

The NSW Origin centre is pushing to be back in the top 17, though coach Wayne Bennett will assess his physical fitness and mental wellbeing before making his selection call.

Roberts was released from a rehabilitation facility on Thursday after self-committing last week when he was struggling during isolation.

A return in round three would likely mean Campbell Graham moves from centre, where he has been training in Roberts's absence, back to the wing, and Alex Johnston potentially reverting to the bench again.

 

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