Willie Mason apologises for drink driving charge

Last updated 22:08 27/01/2014
Willie Mason
DAVID UNWIN/ Fairfax NZ
BIG WILLIE: Newcastle Knights NRL star Willie Mason in Palmerston North promoting February's inaugural NRL nines tournament in Auckland.

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Willie Mason has apologised after adding to a horror off-season for Newcastle when he was charged with drink-driving.

The Knights forward recorded a blood alcohol reading of 0.09 after being pulled over for a random breath test on his way to training on Monday morning.

He was charged with a mid-range offence at Newcastle Police Station and is scheduled to appear in Newcastle Local Court on February 20.

On Monday afternoon he took to Twitter to issue an apology.

"Jus want 2 say sorry to everyone. I take full responsibility it was bad judgment. I thought I was fine 2 drive. Obviously not.sorry again." he wrote.

Mason has been heavily involved in promoting the NRL Nines in New Zealand and Australia in the lead-up to the Eden Park event on February 15 and 16.

But his involvement in the shortform tournament in now under a cloud with the incident under investigation by the NRL Integrity Unit.

"The NRL Integrity Unit is aware of the incident and will work through the proper processes with Newcastle," an NRL spokesman told AAP.

Last season North Queensland prop James Tamou was hit with a two-match ban and a $20,000 fine by the Integrity Unit after recording a drink-driving reading of 0.197 in Townsville in June.

Mason later told Channel Nine he was preparing to face the music in court.

"No one's above the law and obviously I've broken it and now I've got to deal with the consequences," he said.

"My last drink was at 11.30[pm], so I had about seven hours sleep so I thought I was fine.

"I was a bit shocked ... then reality hit straight away and they took me in and arrested me."

The Mason drama continues a troubling off-season for Newcastle.

The incident comes less than a month after fellow Knights prop Russell Packer was jailed for assaulting a man outside a Sydney bar shortly after joining the club on a four-year contract.

Former New Zealand international Packer, who is appealing against the sentence, had yet to play for the club and was subsequently sacked.

Details also emerged on Sunday of exciting centre Dane Gagai, who joined Newcastle in 2012 after being sacked by Brisbane, going missing at an emerging Queensland Origin camp following a boozy night out.

The 23-year-old had a night out during the January 17-19 camp and didn't front for training the next day at the camp being run by Knights coach Wayne Bennett at the Queensland Academy of Sport in Brisbane.

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Former Knights five-eighth Ben Rogers, who is now employed by the club as a community and charity support manager, was also embroiled in controversy when he was charged with two counts of assault following an incident at a taxi rank late last year.

- AAP

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