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Warriors' new policy will stand down players facing serious charges

The Warriors will automatically stand down any player or staff member facing serious criminal allegations after adopting a new behaviour policy before Thursday's ARL Commission meeting.

The ARL Commission is considering taking the same stance in relation to all NRL players accused of serious misconduct. An announcement is expected after Thursday's meeting at Rugby League Central.

The Warriors have already decided any of their players who face serious charges will be banned from playing in the Telstra Premiership even if civil proceedings or a court case is yet to be finalised.

The Warriors board will hold a discretionary power to reinstate a banned player should further information on an investigation come to light.

The club has also vowed to provide full welfare support and payment "as required" to any banned player or club official.

The policy shift came after discussions with skipper Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, coach Stephen Kearney and senior leaders among the team, and was approved with "unanimous support" of the Warriors board, according to CEO Cameron George.

"As a club, we know this could haunt us," George told

"But this isn't about individuals, this is about our part in the game that we're trying to protect and we take that very seriously.

"There was a lengthy discussion with Roger and Stephen about our expectations and the standards we want to uphold within the club and the playing group and our reputation.

This isn't about individuals, this is about our part in the game that we're trying to protect.

Cameron George

"We've got to protect the game firstly, and our brand, our sponsors and whether it's a staff member or player, that's the approach we'll be taking irrespective of any policy change in the game.

"… The critical thing is that player welfare is maintained as much as possible.

"Players and their families will receive extensive welfare, counselling and support in any form that we can offer".

A "serious allegation" in the eyes of the Warriors is an incident that warrants a police investigation or court case, with a potential jail sentence if a player is found guilty.

A string of scandals across the game have brought matters to a head at Thursday's Commission meeting, with cases involving St George Illawarra's Jack de Belin and Manly's Dylan Walker fuelling intense debate over their availability while answering serious criminal charges.

Both men have entered not guilty pleas to respective charges of sexual assault and assault, with their clubs resisting pressure to stand them down until the matters are resolved.

Under current NRL policy, players are deemed eligible to play until criminal proceedings are finalised, though head office does retain a discretionary power to deregister someone if it believes it has grounds to do so, such as the action taken recently against Cowboys fullback Ben Barba.

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The New Zealand Warriors honour the mana of the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa, Australia and the Pacific. We acknowledge the traditional kaitiaki of the lands, elders past and present, their stories, their traditions, their mamae and their mana motuhake.

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