Sydney Roosters launch legal action against ex-sponsor over SKD cocaine scandal
The Sydney Roosters have launched legal action against a sponsor that withdrew its backing following this year's cocaine scandal, leading to fan favourite Shaun Kenny-Dowall being shown the door from the club.
In another twist to the recreational drugs storm that surfaced before and during the representative round, the Roosters are headed to the courts with Infinity Group Australia, months after the firm pulled its sponsorship of the title contenders.
Infinity also notified premiers Cronulla they would discontinue their back-of-jersey sponsorship after the Sharks' former chairman Damian Keogh stood down over cocaine possession charges.
Only a night earlier Roosters star Kenny-Dowall had been arrested on drugs charges. The Kiwi international later pleaded to guilty to cocaine possession, but escaped conviction.
Now there is a twist in the tale of the horror week for the NRL with the Roosters signalling their intent to drag the Infinity matter before the courts.
Asked about the case, the Roosters said: "As the matter is before the court, we are unable to provide a comment."
The case is scheduled for a pre-trial conference later this month.
It was understood the Sharks wouldn't follow the Roosters' lead in pursuing legal action against Infinity, having come to an amicable split with the investment company.
Keogh quit his role at the Sharks and was given an 18-month good behaviour bond without conviction over his drugs possession charges.
Cronulla has already inked a back-of-jersey deal with high-end audio visual brand Bang & Olufsen to replace Infinity.
The organisation is no stranger to partnerships with NRL clubs, pulling its backing of the Eels during last year's salary cap scandal.
And it clearly saw the recreational drugs storm as a tipping point in its deals with the Roosters and the Sharks, who are clamouring for the corporate dollar in a crowded Sydney sporting market. But now it will be forced to defend its actions in the District Court.
The high-flying Eels are still without a major sponsor this year despite rocketing into premiership contention over the past couple of months and cleaning up their act off the field.
Parramatta is also embroiled in a legal feud with its former major sponsor, Dyldam.
The NRL has already considered stepping up its drug testing during bye rounds for specific clubs after the ugly headlines that engulfed the code earlier this year, leading to a number of current and former players to stress the game had a problem with illicit substances.
The affair ended Kenny-Dowall's long tenure at the Roosters after he was released – and it threatened to end his career as a jittery Knights contemplated pulling a lucrative deal they had tabled for the New Zealand international.
But Newcastle coach Nathan Brown threw Kenny-Dowall a lifeline and he will be joined by ex-teammates Aidan Guerra and Connor Watson in the Hunter from next year.
Kenny-Dowall ironically scored a try in his first game for Newcastle against the Roosters at Allianz Stadium last month.
New Zealand stars Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were handed World Cup bans after being caught buying cocaine outside a Canberra nightspot in the early hours of the morning after the Kiwis' Anzac Test loss to Australia, hot on the heels of the Kenny-Dowall and Keogh incidents.
Gold Coast's Proctor was suspended for four NRL matches and his former Storm teammate Bromwich stood down for two games as a result of the scandal.
On the field the Roosters can launch a late bid to steal the minor premiership off competition frontrunners Melbourne when the two sides clash at AAMI Park on Saturday evening.