Penrith Panthers coach Anthony Griffin has sensationally dumped captain Matt Moylan and two other first grade stars to reserve grade after they “breached team protocol”.
Moylan, Waqa Blake and Peta Hiku will play for Penrith’s Intrust Super Premiership NSW side against Newcastle on Saturday.
It’s understood Moylan, Blake and Hiku went out in Melbourne after last Saturday night’s loss to the Storm at AAMI Park, breaking a team curfew.
However, the Panthers aren’t officially releasing details of the incident.
“The players have been dropped from the Panthers NRL side following a breach of team protocol,” the club said in a statement.
“The club now considers the matter dealt with and will be making no further comment.”
It’s expected the three players will be available for selection in round seven when Penrith play Cronulla at Pepper Stadium.
There has been no suggestion at this stage that Moylan’s role as captain is in question moving forward.
At one stage, the TAB suspended betting on Friday night’s game against the Rabbitohs but have since re-opened it. Penrith remain favourites but their odds have blown out.
The drama surrounding the three players has been compounded by news that Tyrone Peachey has suffered a rib injury and will be out for several weeks.
It has forced sweeping changes to Penrith’s side for Friday night’s game, with Dylan Edwards to replace Moylan at fullback and Malakai Watene-Zelezniak to make his NRL debut on the wing.
Panthers team to play Souths: Dylan Edwards, Michael Oldfield, Dean Whare, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Malakai Watene-Zelezniak, Te Maire Martin, Nathan Cleary, James Tamou, Peter Wallace, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Corey Harawira-Naera, Isaah Yeo, Trent Merrin. Bench: Moses Leota, Leilani Latu, Viliame Kikau, Sitaleki Akauola, Sione Katoa, Tyrone May, Samisoni Langi, Match Rein.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 15 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.