NSW Police and the NRL will investigate whether Josh Addo-Carr and Latrell Mitchell broke social distancing regulations at a mid-north coast gathering.
On the same day the NRL gave clubs a draft of strict new biosecurity rules, Addo-Carr posted images of himself and Mitchell at a property near Taree.
The NRL confirmed on Monday morning it would investigate the matter and support any government sanctions handed down, given what could be a massive blow to restart the 2020 season.
The photos have since been deleted from Instagram but they included an image of the pair with 10 men around a fire plus videos of Melbourne flyer Addo-Carr riding a dirt bike without a helmet and shooting a gun.
“On face value, the image in today’s media is both disappointing and an unacceptable breach of health orders,” the NRL said in a statement.
“The NRL will be speaking to the players involved to seek further information and we will ensure the players provide any assistance authorities require.
“Our players are role models and we expect them to lead by example during this pandemic.”
Newcastle are also investigating Tyronne Roberts-Davis’ involvement, after the NRL squad member was seen in one of the photos.
Mitchell spent a significant amount of his summer on a farm in his hometown of Taree while considering his contract options before joining South Sydney.
Addo-Carr’s social media suggests he has spent the majority of the coronavirus shutdown in Sydney.
Under NSW guidelines, people can only leave the house for work, essential shopping, exercise, medical appointments and compassionate visits.
“The matter will be investigated. What action is taken will fall out of that investigation,” NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Gary Worboys said.
“I have spoken this morning to the regional commander at northern.
“He will make himself aware of what’s on the back page of the paper and make some inquiries.
“Police haven’t been backward at all in taking complaints, making investigations and taking the appropriate action.”
Addo-Carr has since told News Corp he was with his pregnant partner in the region and visited his cousins and uncles.
He also claimed it was a cultural gathering, learning about how to live off the land.
Melbourne boss Dave Donaghy had not yet spoken to Addo-Carr with players due back for training next Monday.
The Rabbitohs said they will ensure Mitchell cooperates with authorities and accepts any sanctions, insisting the club and players took government health orders “very seriously”.
The drama could not have come at a worse time for the league.
The NRL hopes to convince government this week it can return safely given its biosecurity measures.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian would not comment on Monday on whether the issue would affect the game’s chances of a May 28 resumption.
Under the proposed rules players would have to stay home except for training, playing, doctor’s visits and essential food shopping.
They also dictate players cannot have visitors in their homes.
The NRL has threatened teams with the loss of points and heavy fines if any player breaks the rules.
“We are embarking on a significant education program to ensure our players understand what is acceptable behaviour ahead of the resumption of training,” the NRL said.
“When training resumes our players and officials must comply with biosecurity protocols that go further than current government restrictions.
“As a group, our players have taken government health orders very seriously and have helped educate the community.
“On face value, today’s matter is unacceptable and we support the government in any action they believe necessary.”