Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
3 days ago
A young woman has accused as many as six Bulldogs rugby league players of sexually assaulting her at a resort, a year after another woman claimed members of the team molested her at the same hotel.
It is the third consecutive year that women have made sexual assault complaints against members of National Rugby League teams, all during pre-season trials. In the latest case, the 20-year-old woman told police the incidents occurred after she met Bulldogs players at Coffs Harbour on Saturday night.
She was taken by ambulance from the Novotel Pacific Bay resort to the Coffs Harbour hospital at 8.30 on Sunday, the morning after the Bulldogs trounced Canberra 30-12. Bulldogs management has interviewed all players on the trip and told them not to talk to anybody, not even wives or managers, about the case.
Last year, the Bulldogs were involved in a police investigation at the same resort after a trial game when a 42-year-old woman claimed she had consensual sex with one player, but woke up having sex with another player, while a third looked on. That case was dropped for lack of evidence.
On Saturday night, Bulldogs players went to a function at the Coffs Harbour Ex-Servicemen's Club at 11pm after their victorious trial game. It is understood the woman met players there and arranged to meet several later at the Plantation nightclub across the road. When they did not turn up, she socialised with other Bulldogs.
Detective Gary McEvoy, from Coffs Harbour police, confirmed the assault investigation and said some players had been interviewed before being allowed to return to Sydney on Sunday night.
"All parties have not been interviewed so it would be inappropriate to make further comment," he said.
Channel Seven reported that one of the incidents may have taken place beside the resort pool.
Pacific Bay resort's general manager, Klaus Gottschalk, said the resort would be happy to hand over its security tapes to police.
Bulldogs chief executive Steve Mortimer said:
"We have been very willing to assist the police with their inquiries. We won't make any further comment."
He has previously threatened to sack players involved in anti-social or loutish behaviour.
The NRL conducts mandatory annual welfare clinics for contracted players. This year's topic is "risky business". Conducted by a policeman, the clinics cover assault, sexual assault, alcohol, drugs and drink-driving.
In 2002, Cronulla Sutherland players were interviewed by New Zealand police following a complaint by a Christchurch hotel worker. No charges were laid.
A bus driver for Pacific City Coaches, John Woodward, who drove the Bulldogs around Coffs Harbour, said: "I was with them most of the time and they were thorough gentlemen."
But vandals scratched the word "f---" on the door of his bus.