Bulldogs suspend star after assault charges laid
The once-celebrated career of Canterbury back-rower Reni Maitua could be over after the former Kangaroo was charged by police with assaulting a taxi driver in the early hours of Monday morning.
Maitua has apologised for his role in the incident for which he was granted conditional bail and will appear in Waverley Local Court on January 7.
The incident comes as yet another slap in the face for the NRL after Manly prop Richie Fa'aoso was charged over an alleged domestic incident on Monday and Newcastle recruit Russell Packer was questioned by police over an alleged assault in Sydney on Friday.
The 31-year-old Maitua has been suspended from all duties with Canterbury on Tuesday in the wake of the charge.
According to police, Maitua was picked up in inner-city Darlinghurst at around 5am on Monday and asked the driver to take him to Daceyville in Sydney's southeast before allegedly becoming abusive on the journey.
Police allege he then assaulted the taxi driver.
Maitua took to Twitter to express remorse and claim that he pushed the driver rather than struck him.
"Deeply apologetic to the gentleman involved, Canterbury, the fans, my family and the game in general," the 161-game NRL veteran wrote.
"I have no excuses for my poor behaviour and will accept any punishment handed down to me from the Powers to be.
"I was charged w common assault for pushing the gentleman's arm, by no means is that acceptable but certainly didn't strike anyone.
"Again I'm truly sorry to everyone I've let down."
Maitua returned to Canterbury this season after stints with Cronulla and Parramatta after being thrown an NRL lifeline by coach Des Hasler.
A noted disciplinarian, Hasler is unlikely to look kindly upon Maitua's latest indiscretion.
In 2006 at age 24 Maitua had already won a premiership with the Bulldogs and made his Australian debut.
But from there things went downhill.
In 2008 his contract was terminated by Canterbury after he failed to attend training.
In 2009 he joined Cronulla but played only eight games with the Sharks before he was banned for two years for testing positive to a banned substance.
On Tuesday the NRL released a statement saying it was investigating each of the incidents involving Maitua, Packer, and Fa'aoso.
"We must all accept the need to establish the relevant facts and the Integrity Unit will carry out that task with the cooperation of the clubs," NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said in the statement.
"If however breaches are established then we will act accordingly.
"The Integrity Unit has provided a clear mechanism for assessing behavioural issues and we have already shown this year that we will act on the outcomes.
"The overwhelming majority of our players are fantastic ambassadors both for the game and the community. It is all the more important, therefore, that we send clear messages in relation to off-field misbehaviour.