Broncos star Tevita Pangai jnr has been stood down indefinitely by the NRL and fined $30,000 in a breach notice for multiple biosecurity breaches.
Pangai's punishment is the largest issued by the NRL for breaking Project Apollo protocols and comes as Brisbane's board weighs up whether to terminate his contract - worth just under $2 million over three years - over a string of recent incidents.
The Tongan international will be given five business days to respond to the NRL sanctions after he visited a Brisbane barbershop with bikie connections over the weekend.
There is no suggestion the Brisbane forward was engaged in any illegal activity, but his repeated flouting of the rules have gone down like a lead balloon with both NRL and Broncos hierarchy.
The NRL's breach notice alleges "multiple breaches" of COVID-19 regulations "over a period of time".
The notice also directs he should "be excluded from the Broncos’ bubble and any NRL match day until such time that he can satisfy the NRL that he will comply with all biosecurity protocols".
NRL acting CEO Andrew Abdo said Pangai's inability to comply with COVID-19 protocols could not be tolerated if the code was to continue its season with exemptions approved by various state governments.
Robinson won't sign Pangai: Not type of player we want
"We believe this was a case of a player committing multiple contraventions of the protocols and showing a disregard for the league’s rules," Abdo said.
"We will do everything we can to protect our season.
"Players or officials who show they are unable to comply with the biosecurity protocols will be removed from club bubbles until we are satisfied that they will comply with the protocols. We believe in this case, Tevita has not been able to do that."
Brisbane's verdict on Pangai's future is still being determined by the club.
The 24-year-old may have played his last game in maroon and gold after a series of recent issues and on-field suspensions, including allegations he was recently shopping himself to rival clubs.
Despite Pangai's dire record of suspensions – he has already sat out three months of football in the last 18 months before this latest NRL breach notice – at his best he is one of the game's most damaging forwards.
Reaction across the NRL to his potential availability has been muted, with Warriors interim coach Todd Payten expressing frustration at rival players putting the competition in jeopardy when his side has relocated across the Tasman for the entire season.
How can struggling Broncos stop the rot?
"It is [frustrating], I can understand how hard it is but we have a responsibility to the game and to our club to do things right," Payten said.
"I'm just concerned that our boys are doing the right things and will continue to do so."
NRL.com understands that some figures at the Warriors would consider a play for Pangai should Brisbane show him the door, but are yet to seriously discuss targeting him given their existing interest in Jack de Belin.
"As a club you look at every player available. I would consider Tevita at his best a very good player," Payten said.
Craig Bellamy said Melbourne would not consider chasing Pangai "at the moment", while one-time suitor and Roosters coach Trent also delivered a blunt appraisal of Pangai's chances of landing at Bondi.
Robinson met Pangai at his home in Sydney's east last year as the Tricolours pursued his signature, but there was little interest when the three-time premiership-winning coach was quizzed about Pangai on Wednesday.
"No, he won’t be at the Roosters," Robinson said.
"I don’t know what’s going on up there, but we’ve worked really hard - as you can see - for the type of player that we want.
"And he’s not going to fit that mould."