Footy star Api Koroisau has been fined $35,000 and will have to sit out for two games after breaching the NRL’s biosecurity bubble during the State of Origin.
An investigation was launched by the league on Thursday after Daily Mail Australia revealed Koroisau allegedly put the entire NRL competition at risk by smuggling a woman he met on Instagram into the NSW Blues hotel on two occasions last month.
Koroisau allegedly sneaked the woman into the camp on June 20 – one day before the team was moved to Kingscliff, in northern NSW, to escape Sydney’s rampant Covid outbreak.
The married father-of-two allegedly also met up with the woman on a second occasion, on the day of game two, when the team was in a ‘bubble’ to prevent any potential exposure to the virus.
The two-game suspension will start immediately meaning the 28-year-old will miss Saturday night’s game against the Brisbane Broncos.
The league confirmed the punishment would be handed down to the player on Friday night.
Api Koroisau has been fined $35,000 and suspended for two games after Daily Mail Australia exclusively revealed that he allegedly put the entire NRL competition at risk by smuggling a woman he met on Instagram into the Blues hotel on two occasions. He is pictured with his wife Amy
‘In issuing the proposed penalty, the NRL has taken into account that the alleged breach took place prior to more recent breaches, including before a group of St George Illawarra Dragons players breached NSW Public Health orders and before Queensland Player Jai Arrow breached the game’s biosecurity protocols,’ a statement read.
‘It also takes into account the alleged breach was shortly after an upgrade in biosecurity protocols.
‘It’s alleged Koroisau attended the hotel room of an individual who was not part of the team’s biosecurity bubble on 27 June.
‘The NRL is offering ongoing welfare support to Koroisau’s family.’
Koroisau released a statement on Friday evening apologising for the scandal.
‘I made the choice to do the wrong thing and my actions have brought shame and embarrassment to many people, especially my wife and children. I will be forever sorry.
‘I sincerely apologise to the NRL, NSW Rugby League, Panthers, the sponsors and stakeholders, and all my teammates for letting you down.
‘I apologise to the fans for putting our game at risk, particularly at such a challenging time for so many people.
‘I apologise to my wife Amy for the pain I have caused. I’ve hurt you and the girls with my selfish, thoughtless actions.
‘I’m determined to become a better partner, father and protector, and hopefully rebuild trust, and earn back your love and our family.
‘I will work hard every day moving forward to show my wife, my children, my team and the Rugby League community that I am not defined by my mistakes and I will grow from this.’
Meanwhile the entire NRL season is hanging by a thread after family members were pictured breaching hotel quarantine rules on their first day in the code’s Covid bubble in Queensland.
The state’s Chief Health Officer promised she will send the competition packing if there is one more violation.
Pictures taken on Thursday show men and women staying inside the Novotel hotel in Surfers Paradise passing lollies to to people on floors above and below them.
According to hotel sources the people pictured are part of the NRL’s bubble and it has been confirmed to Daily Mail Australia that they were breaching isolation rules.
Queensland CHO Dr Jeannette Young put the players, their families and the entire competition on notice in Friday morning’s coronavirus press conference, saying she was ‘very close’ to kicking the NRL out of the state.
‘I’m getting very close to it,’ Dr Young said of revoking the league’s exemption.
‘I’m very, very concerned about what is happening with these NRL players.
Pictures on Thursday show men and women staying inside the Novotel hotel in Surfers Paradise as a part of the NRL’s bubble passing lollies to people on floors above and below them
Those passing sweets to people on other floors appear to be breaching the rules. A source at the hotel told Daily Mail Australia the people shown in the photos are part of the NRL bubble. There’s no suggestion the other people pictured have broken the bubble’s rules
‘You would have seen that imagery of the family hotel where they were sharing goods between verandahs.
‘It’s for all of them. This is too risky. We just cannot have people deliberately breaching the rules.’
There is no suggestion any of the other NRL family members staying at the hotel have broken the NRL’s bubble rules.
It comes after the woman who is alleged to have met up with Koroisau said she has not yet been contacted by officials after coming forward to reveal she twice sneaked into the State of Origin camp.
Amy and the couple’s two children arrived at the Gold Coast on Wednesday to join Koroisau in the Queensland NRL hub and are now completing their mandatory 14-day quarantine stint
The game’s integrity commission immediately launched an investigation into the woman’s claims, but on Friday afternoon she said she had not received any communication with sporting officials.
‘I haven’t heard from anyone about it, nothing,’ the woman said.
The woman claims Koroisau gave her ‘strict’ instructions on how to get into camp without being noticed.
They planned to meet a third time but the woman claimed Koroisau put an end to that dalliance hours before she was due to arrive.
The woman who accused Koroisau of breaching quarantine said she met the footballer on Instagram in early June, and their communication quickly moved to Snapchat
NRL boss Peter V’landys warned last year upon moving the NRL competition to Queensland that there would be a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to quarantine breaches in future
Koroisau called off a third rendezvous with the woman after Queensland player Jai Arrow was dumped from the Maroons camp over a similar incident involving a female dancer being invited back to his hotel. Koroisau is pictured holding the ball in State of Origin game three
Daily Mail Australia understands Koroisau sent grovelling texts (pictured) to his wife after she was told of the incident with the woman during State of Origin
Koroisau called off the rendezvous after Queensland player Jai Arrow was dumped from the Maroons camp over a similar incident involving a female dancer being invited back to his hotel.
Arrow was banned from playing in the State of Origin finale and issued with a breach notice which included a $35,000 fine.
Koroisau was the 18th man for games one and two of the State of Origin series, and allegedly first invited the woman to join him at the Novotel in Homebush on June 20.
The NRL has gone to extreme lengths to keep the game alive since the pandemic began 18 months ago, including demanding all players enter a ‘bubble’ to avoid potential outbreaks.
Broadcaster Ray Hadley earlier told his 2GB audience the code had to come down hard on Koroisau if he was found to have breached the biosecurity bubble.
‘The NRL has a very big job to do here,’ Hadley said on Friday morning. ‘Whatever they do with the bloke probably won’t be enough.
‘He’s put the entire game at risk and they should deal with him appropriately. I don’t want to see a slap on the wrist.’
The Panthers released a statement on Friday afternoon and said they supported the decision handed down to the player.
‘Penrith Panthers acknowledges and supports the NRL sanction imposed on Apisai Koroisau for a breach of NRL biosecurity protocols,’ the club said.
‘Apisai has expressed genuine remorse for his actions and understands the potential ramifications of his decisions on the viability of the game.
‘Panthers is providing the Koroisau family with all the necessary support and kindly asks the media to respect their privacy at this time.’
Koroisau’s wife Amy congratulated him on Instagram for making his long-awaited debut in game three after being 18th man for the first two matches
Ms Koroisau is aware of the allegations against her husband, and has joined him in the Queensland Covid hub
Koroisau allegedly breached the rules by inviting the woman, who was holidaying in Sydney, into the Blues camp despite the Covid outbreak in the city.
‘I was told to message him when my Uber was about to drop me off and walk straight into the lifts, where he would be waiting for me,’ the woman said.
Koroisau was in the elevator when the woman arrived, and ushered her directly up to his room.
They allegedly spent about two hours together before Koroisau told her to leave because he had to return to his teammates who were all together downstairs.
Less than 12 hours later, Koroisau and his Blues teammates flew to Kingscliff, where Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk granted them an exemption to ensure the State of Origin could go ahead.
The woman claims the next morning, Koroisau told her he’d be ‘deleting his Snapchat’ because he was heading home to his wife, and urged her not to contact him on Instagram in case his wife read the message. Pictured: An exchange between Koroisau’s wife’s Instagram account and the other woman
On June 27, the day of the second match, the woman said Koroisau invited her to join him at the Sofitel resort in Brisbane – but he warned her it would be ‘difficult’ given he now had a roommate.
She said he suggested she book her own room in the hotel – and even allegedly offered to pay for it.
The woman said she booked a room in her own name and met Koroisau when she arrived. He then took a key to her room on his way out and returned to see her about midnight after his team sealed the series in a 26-0 thrashing of Queensland.
She claims Koroisau didn’t want his roommate to know he was breaching strict isolation rules implemented by camp officials, and that he left her room about 6am.
Receipts seen by Daily Mail Australia showed the woman checked into the room that she booked about midday on June 27.
Amy was seen getting off a plane with a backpack and her two daughters on Wednesday on the Gold Coast
‘My understanding is that nobody actually knew and that he kept it all hush hush because it was not allowed,’ she said.
The pair planned to meet again before game three, but the woman said Korosiau pulled the pin after word spread that Arrow had been booted out of camp.
‘We didn’t want to ruin his debut… so we decided it would be best that I didn’t come,’ she said.
Following the short-lived alleged affair, the other woman contacted Koroisau’s wife Amy to apologise for her part in what happened.
In a series of messages shown to Daily Mail Australia, Amy Koroisau told the other woman she was ‘devastated’ and considered leaving the marriage.
‘He’s dead to me now,’ a message sent from Amy Koroisau’s Instagram account read.
Amy flew with the couple’s two young daughters to Coolangatta on the Gold Coast on Wednesday to join her husband and his team.
The family will spend 14 days in hotel quarantine at a Gold Coast hotel before moving north to the Sunshine Coast, where Koroisau and his teammates are based.
Koroisau’s wife of four years allegedly told the other woman that she would leave him after learning of the affair, but it appears she has since flown to the Sunshine Coast to join the Penrith Panthers’ Covid bubble with their two young daughters
Miliana, who proudly represented her dad’s football team by wearing a Penrith Panthers skirt, helped out by carrying her own Paw Patrol backpack off the plane
HOW API KOROISAU ALLEGEDLY BREACHED NRL’S COVID BUBBLE
June 20: Api Koroisau and the woman begin private messaging on Instagram, but Koroisau quickly directs the conversation to Snapchat
He allegedly tells the woman he is in Blues State of Origin camp in Homebush, and asks her if she’d be interested in ‘sneaking in’ to see him
June 21: Koroisau and his team fly to Kingscliff to escape Covid in Sydney
June 26: Koroisau allegedly contacts the woman again to ask if she’d like to see him again, this time in Brisbane
June 27: The woman checks in to her own hotel room in the Sofitel Brisbane, where the team is playing, after Koroisau allegedly tells her he has been assigned a roommate
That afternoon, Koroisau allegedly arrives at the woman’s room to ‘sleep together’ prior to the match
June 27 evening: Koroisau leaves the room, taking a key with him, to join his teammates and head to the game for an 8.10pm kickoff
June 27 midnight: He allegedly returns to the woman’s apartment about midnight, after his team won the match
June 28: Allegedly slips out of the hotel room about 6am to join his teammates
Later sends the woman a message telling her that he will be deleting Snapchat and not to contact him on Instagram as ‘his wife checks it’
Koroisau reportedly says he will ‘be in touch’ again ahead of match three, when he is back in camp
July 8: Koroisau allegedly messages the woman again to organise to catch up back in camp ahead of game three
He allegedly tells her to ‘come over about 9pm, after dinner with the team’ but backtracks just hours before she’s due to arrive after Queensland Maroons star Jai Arrow is dismissed from his squad for breaching the Covid bubble
Both Koroisau and the woman reportedly mutually agree that he should not jeopardise his debut to see her
July 17: The woman informs Koroisau’s wife of the alleged affair