Eels star Shaun Lane in white powder photo probe
The NRL is investigating images which appear to show Parramatta Eels forward Shaun Lane in possession of a white substance during a team bender at his former club Manly.
Screenshots taken from multimedia messaging app Snapchat of Lane holding a plastic bag containing a powdery substance emerged on Monday night and are being examined by the integrity unit and the Parramatta Eels.
The images are believed to have been taken at the Sea Eagles' Mad Monday celebrations in September last year, before Lane switched to the Parramatta Eels.
Manly spent their Mad Monday in fancy dress on a harbour cruise last year.
Players dressed up as characters from movies released in the year they were born. Lane went as Forrest Gump which was released in 1994.
He posted images on Instagram on the day wearing the same Forrest Gump-inspired T-shirt as the one on display in the Snapchat shots revealed Monday night.
Lane posted another image on Instagram of him with an unidentified player dressed up as Jim Carrey's character from The Mask.
In a caption on his Instagram account referencing the movie Lane said: "Mumma always said mad Monday was like a box of chocolates … never know what you're gunna get."
Players continued celebrating into the evening. There is no suggestion that other Manly players had any knowledge of the substance.
AN NRL spokesman has confirmed the integrity unit is examining the case.
"The integrity unit has been asked to investigate photographs which allegedly feature a Parramatta Eels player. The Parramatta Club is co-operating with the Integrity Unit," he said.
Lane had a short break at the end of the season before joining Parramatta.
Lane was interviewed by Parramatta officials late Monday before the integrity unit was notified.
Officials have looked over his social media accounts to determine how widely shared the photographs were.
In one screenshot, Lane holds a small plastic bag between thumb and forefinger up to the camera. The bag appears to contain a white powder.
In another image, a wide-eyed Lane appears to be placing something into his open mouth. The Snapchat was sent in a group text and has been seen by numerous people around Sydney.
One person who said they are fed up with the NRL culture sent the images of Lane to The Daily Telegraph.
"He'll get a slap on the wrist, that's what they all do, but hopefully this is a wake-up call for him,'' the person told The Daily Telegraph.
Lane has been a key strike forward for the Eels in their charge to the finals.
The club is concerned about the effect of the NRL investigation and the publicity fallout on the team.
Although the photos were taken 10 months ago, Lane could face disciplinary action if adverse findings are subsequently made out.
Earlier this year Canterbury Bulldogs forward Dylan Napa was fined 10 per cent of his salary over an old sex tape that had been circulated among Roosters players.
NRL boss Todd Greenberg warned at the time that any video or photo damaging to the game will incur significant penalties, including suspension no matter how old they are.
"I'm trying to find a balance that's fair and reasonable on the player and the club he is playing for," Greenberg said.
"Every player would now be acutely aware that if they are going to take videos that are idiotic they can expect bigger sanctions."
He went on: "I don't know if it's fair or not, but when the game gets damaged by these sorts of things, you have to react and it doesn't matter when it happens."
An Eels spokesman said Parramatta were aware of the photos and have begun an internal investigation into the matter. "We will be making no further comment until the investigation has been completed," the club said.
The Manly Sea Eagles declined to comment.
Lane, who played his junior rugby league for South Eastern Seagulls, debuted for the Canterbury Bulldogs in 2015 and is already at his fourth NRL club after stints at the New Zealand Warriors (2016) and Manly (2017-18).
The 24 year old has played 19 matches for the Eels this season, scoring three tries, and has been one of the form players of the competition. He has played a big part in the Eels' on-field resurgence after the club's dismal 2018.
With his off-loads and passing ability, the rangy forward has formed a formidable partnership with several of the team's speedsters this season. Lane is contracted to the end of 2020.