Seventh NRL club cuts bad boy loose
The sporadic career of Wellington-born serial bad boy Arana Taumata is yet again in a state of flux after a seventh NRL club severed ties with him today in mysterious circumstances.
The Penrith Panthers issued a brief statement saying the 23 year old had requested and been granted an immediate release, but offered no explanation.
Taumata, who became a father for the first time last year, was hoping to rebuild his career under Ivan Cleary and returned to the NRL for the first time since 2010 when the Panthers lost to the Gold Coast last June.
The former New Zealand Maori representative was signed by Brisbane and arrived at the Broncos two days after his 15th birthday in 2005. He soon got offside with the club's management and was banished in 2006.
The Sydney Roosters, Bulldogs - where he made his first grade debut in 2008 - and Melbourne have also sacked him for disciplinary reasons.
Taumata then had a short stint at the Wests Tigers alongside Benji Marshall; North Queensland was the five-eighth's next destination he but could not adjust to life in Townsville and returned to Sydney.
The Panthers offered him a lifeline in 2011, which he nearly severed that June by stealing a prescription pad from the team doctor in a bid to obtain valium from a Parramatta pharmacy.
Taumata pleaded guilty and was placed on an 18-month good behaviour bond.
Shortly before he died of a heart attack in December 2011, Australian league legend Arthur Beetson convinced Panther supremo Phil Gould not to sack Taumata for his latest indiscretion.
It appeared Taumata had his life back on track thanks to his parents Dave and Tracey who relocated to Sydney to provide support.
His partner Annika gave birth to their daughter Maya early last year and in another encouraging sign Taumata earned some game time in 2012 to add to the mere 12 first grade games he had played during seven years as a talented, but erratic, professional footballer.
Taumata was not a member of the Panthers first grade squad this season but had been hopeful of playing himself into contention.
Instead he abruptly announced his departure on Twitter, posting: "Today I have made a decision to leave @PenrithPanthers. I look forward to the new challenges in my life. Thanks everyone for your support."
The Panthers statement read: "The club wishes Arana all the best for his future endeavours, and will make no further comment on this matter."
Earlier this month Taumata had to apologise on the social media site after tweeting racist comments about two Indian competitors in the reality TV cooking show My Kitchen Rules.
On February 11 he also used Twitter to deny rumours he had been implicated in the performance-enhancing drug use crisis sweeping Australian professional sport.
"Look guys just clearing the air no I have not been suspended for the use of any substances by the NRL. Thank you.
"I've heard the rumours. And no I am all clear. LOL".