Paul Vaughan sacked, contract, St George Illawarra Dragons board meeting, Covid breach, party, Corey Norman, Matt Dufty, Jack de Belin

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Paul Vaughan hosted the most expensive BBQ in history after having his $800,000 per year contract torn up by the Dragons on top of a $50,000 NRL fine.

Vaughan has played his last game for the Dragons, with his future discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday where officials decided to axe him from the last 15 months of his deal.

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The board approved a termination of Vaughan’s contract with immediate effect after he hosted a party at his house last Saturday, the day after the club’s win over the Warriors, before lying to club officials.

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“The St George Illawarra Dragons have handed down additional club-imposed sanctions to the 13 players who breached NRL biosecurity protocols and state government public health orders on Saturday night,” the club said in a statement.

“The remainder of Paul Vaughan’s playing contract has been terminated, effective immediately, as a result of now a number of breaches that include and predate the current matter.

“Vaughan was contracted to the Dragons until the end of the 2022 season.

“The remaining 12 players will be issued with individual breach notices containing a confidential monetary fine that will be forwarded to selected local charities as well as compulsory extracurricular club service.”

“The board haven’t taken any of the 13 players’ actions lightly and reinforced this on Tuesday morning by taking these additional actions including the termination of Paul Vaughan’s contract,” Dragons CEO Ryan Webb said.

“The club maintains it holds no reservations over the punishments already handed down by the NRL Integrity Unit and New South Wales Police.

“These additional penalties have been determined in such a way that the beneficiaries will be those affected by the players’ misconduct.”

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Earlier Webb claimed on Tuesday Morning that nothing would be “off the table” as the club’s board met to dsicuss handing out their own punishments.

Webb told SEN he wouldn’t rule out taking the most severe action after the NRL handed down $305,000 worth of fines.

“There was a lot we had to talk through as a group, so I don’t think anything is off the table,” he said.

“I don’t know where the discussion will go, there’s a lot to sift through.

“We’ve got to make sure the board is aware of all the intricacies of how this played out and the reaction to everything by each of the players.

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“Then we’ll make some decisions of what we want to do as a club.

“There’s a lot of people right now that have lost a lot of trust in our club and we’ve got to try and earn that back.”

The Dragons are yet to make decisions on additional punishments for the other players present at Vaughan’s party. .

Among those in attendance were off-contract duo Matt Dufty and Corey Norman, who were both informed by the Dragons that they wouldn’t be offered new deals beyond this season.

Jack de Belin — who is only four games into his NRL return – was reportedly hiding under the bed. That came after he told the club he was walking his dog, while Norman left his wallet and his car with personalised number plates outside Vaughan’s house.

Dufty told The Sydney Morning Herald last week that not knowing where he will playing next season is “stressful.”

The 25-year-old was linked to the Raiders and even toured their facilities, however the Green Machine went cold on him. He is not keen to head overseas to the Super League yet and over the weekend News Corp reported that the Waratahs rejected an approach from Dufty’s camp to make the code-switch.

It seems options are slim for the pair and their involvement in this Covid breach could scare off any interest from NRL clubs.

Dragons Covid breach explained | 01:53

As for de Belin, the Dragons have shown an extraordinary amount of loyalty and support to the 30-year-old. He is signed until the end of 2024 with an option in his favour for 2025. The club re-signed him on a four-year deal while he was sidelined under the NRL’s no-fault stand down policy.

And now, as revealed on NRL 360, he not only was present at the party, but also reportedly hid under a bed when police arrived to avoid being caught.

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There’s no denying de Belin’s football talent and how much faith the Dragons have in him but The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield questioned his place at the club — as well as Norman and Vaughan’s.

“Can St George accommodate Jack de Belin? I think it’s a bigger issue. I think their culture stinks,” he told NRL 360.

“When you put de Belin in with Vaughan and you throw Corey Norman into the mix. I think the three of them there is bad, bad news for St George.

“I think the board meeting (Hooper referred to), they need to do something about that… and that includes Corey Norman.”

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