Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera could yet return to the NRL after having their deregistrations overturned on appeal.
The duo were axed by the Canterbury Bulldogs and deregistered in April after their involvement in the schoolgirl sex scandal in Port Macquarie prior to an NRL trial match with the Bulldogs.
The adjusted punishments see Okunbor handed a 14-match suspension and a $22,500 fine, while Harawira-Naera was given a 10-match suspension and a $15,000 fine.
In addition to the suspension and the financial sanction, Okunbor will also be required to undergo counselling as well as partaking in community work.
While the pair were sacked by the Bulldogs in the wake of the Port Macquarie scandal, the club confirmed in a statement that they are consulting with the league on both players’ return.
“The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs have this afternoon been advised by the NRL of the appeal process result for Corey Harawira-Naera and Jayden Okunbor,” a Bulldogs statement read.
“We are now working with the NRL to determine how this process will be implemented and will await further advice from the NRL on the next stage.
“We will release a further update when we have more information.”
Okunbor and Harawira-Naera’s potential returns come as interim NRL CEO Andrew Abdo admitted he was “disappointed” with the outcome of the appeals.
“The NRL took the action which it considered necessary given the serious breaches of the code of conduct – breaches the appeals committee also found to be serious,” he said in a statement.
“The independent appeals committee has taken a different view on what penalty the players should face and although we are disappointed, we respect the outcome.”