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Naiqama out while police investigate

11/02/2009 07:45:55 PM Comments (0)

Newcastle international Wes Naiqama has become the fifth NRL player reprimanded by his club this year in a horror start to the bid to rebuild rugby league's shattered off-field image.

Naiqama was on Tuesday stood down from the Knights as police investigate an incident at an inner-city hotel in Newcastle where it is alleged Naiqama injured a female patron by throwing a plastic cup.

Newcastle management met with Naiqama on Wednesday and will wait until police conclude their investigation before deciding further sanctions against the Fijian World Cup captain.

"We spoke to Wes this morning and he provided us with a statement of his version of events," said Knights chief executive Steve Burraston in a statement.

"The club will continue to talk to police and the venue involved in the coming days, however, as this is a legal matter, the Newcastle Knights can't and won't be making any public comment until police complete their investigation."

Naiqama is the second NRL player to be involved in alleged attack on a female this year with Canberra young gun Joel Thompson stood down by the Raiders after he was charged with assaulting his girlfriend on January 22.

That incident came just days after Cronulla released Test forward Greg Bird from his contract following his alleged assault of girlfriend Katie Milligan last year, with Bird to face court in April.

Melbourne sacked five-eighth Arana Taumata last month for a bar fight, while teammates Dane Nielsen and Wairangi Koopu were "heavily sanctioned" by the club for their role in the incident.

It was Taumata's fourth sacking from an NRL club in three years.

Meanwhile former Test forward Reni Maitua was punted by the Bulldogs for repeated contract breaches last December, only to re-sign with Cronulla, and last month Gold Coast winger Ben Jeffery faced court for drink driving offences.

Naiqama could become the third sacking of the year if the allegations against him are proven correct.

The 26-year-old moved to Newcastle at the end of 2007 after a turbulent time with St George Illawarra ended with four months in periodic detention for repeated driving while disqualified offences.

Meanwhile coach Brian Smith on Wednesday named 24 of his top 32 players for a series of Saturday trial matches against Central Charlestown, Maitland and South Newcastle at St John Oval.

Injured first-graders including captain Kurt Gidley, Matt Hilder, Luke MacDougall, Adam MacDougall, Danny Wicks and James McManus, who strained his groin at training on Monday, will miss the games.

New recruits George Ndaira, Ben Rogers and Isaac De Gois will make their first club appearances with De Gois and Ndaira sharing the hooking duties and vying to be the fulltime replacement for departed captain Danny Buderus.

Former NSW halfback Jarrod Mullen will partner Luke Walsh in the halves for the first game, with Ben Rogers and Scott Dureau the other scrumbase option for coach Brian Smith in game two.

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