Witness holds the key as Police
prepare to swoop

Six Bulldogs players are set to be charged over the alleged sexual assault of a 20-year-old woman in Coffs Harbour last month.

The news comes as the NRL prepares for its 2004 season to begin on Friday night.

It's believed that Police are close to making arrests over the alleged assault, but are hoping to speak to a key witness who they believe may know exactly what happened on the morning in question.

"We have some information that a seventh person was walking from the pool area shortly before or after the alleged incident," Detective Inspector Jason Breton said at a press conference today.

Mr Breton said the evidence is "very crucial, this person is a person who quite clearly may have been near the pool at the time of the alleged incident."

23 players have been interviewed by Police over the alleged assault, and it's believed all have provided DNA samples. Winger Hazem El Masri refused to talk to Police and on legal advice, declined the opportunity to submit a DNA sample.

Police have confirmed that those interviewed had statements prepared.

"We respect the inherent right of any individual to take their legal advice and say nothing to police, we can't help that," Detective Breton said.