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Premiership winning winger Luke Rooney has been called into the New South Wales side to replace Anthony Minichiello, who became the second player in as many days to be sacked by ARL officials over the mobile phone voice message affair.
The Panthers flyer was in Townsville preparing for tomorrow night?s clash with North Queensland and will fly back to Sydney immediately to join the Blues in preparation for Wednesday night?s first State of Origin match at Telstra Stadium. He will not play for the Panthers tomorrow night.
Rooney joins Brisbane?s Michael Devere has a new addition to the team following the sackings of Minichiello and Dragons star Mark Gasnier.
Gasnier left an obscene voice mail message on the mobile phone of a young Sydney woman in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He was using Minichiello?s mobile phone at the time, despite all players having been told that no phones were allowed in the Origin camp.
New South Wales coach Phil Gould confirmed this evening that a mobile phone ban had been placed on players.
?Its been my rule for the past two years and this year that there are no mobile phones in camp,? Gould told Channel Nine.
?We don?t want contact with the outside world and these people can?t afford to be taking mobile phones with them. I can only think that if that mobile phone wasn?t there, a lot of this drama wouldn?t have happened.?
Gould said he fully supported the sackings of Gasnier and Minichiello and was now looking to move on and prepare for Wednesday night?s game.
The ARL tonight apologised for incorrect comments made to the media yesterday in which CEO Geoff Carr said there was only one voice on the message left by Gasnier on the unidentified 27-year-old woman?s phone. After extensive coverage of the message today, Carr was forced to admit there was more than one voice in the message.
?It is unfortunate that yesterday that quality of the speaker phone used to listen to the phone message did not allow us to detect the second voice and I apologise to all concerned for being incorrect in relation to that matter,? Mr Carr said.
?Again the NSWRL apologises to the woman who received the phone message, as I did personally yesterday evening, and to all Rugby League fans and players who have been embarrassed by the performance of some team members.
?They have our assurance that such behaviour will not be tolerated at representative level in the future.?
Meanwhile, the National Rugby League is yet to comment on whether Willie Mason?s $6,000 fine for various indiscretions during Origin camp will result in the Bulldogs receiving the rest of their $500,00 fine imposed earlier this year. At the time, $350,000 of the fine was suspended on condition that no Bulldogs official, player or supporter brought the game into disrepute. With Mason being fined for three separate incidents, it is expected that the NRL will at least investigate the matter.