The Gold Coast Titans say they went perilously close to sacking Chris Walker before receiving the medical advice that may have saved his chequered career.
The Titans have imposed a stringent set of conditions on Walker, including a hefty fine believed to be around $25,000, following an incident at a Surfers Paradise nightclub on April 7. A heavily intoxicated Walker was ejected from Melbas nightclub after becoming involved in an altercation with a patron.
He was later diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and alcohol dependency. As part of the new set of conditions, Walker will have to take part in an eight-week rehabilitation program as well as adhering to a ban on alcohol, gambling or entering any licensed premises.
Walker will also be allowed to train and play for Gold Coast's feeder club Ipswich Jets.
Down in the Shire, and Cronulla coach Ricky Stuart claims the NRL is showing little regard for player welfare in light of a gruelling schedule which will see a host of his players play three matches in six days.
The Sharks play Newcastle on Monday night followed by the City-Country game on Thursday before the Sharks travel to New Zealand to play the Warriors on the Saturday. Any Sharks players selected in either the City or Country sides will have to endure almost 15 hours of travelling covering a distance of just under 5,500 kilometres next week.
Stuart said he approached the NRL to have Cronulla's round eight Saturday afternoon match against the Warriors moved to the Sunday, but his request was denied. NRL chief operating officer Graham Annesley said the schedule was completed long before representative teams were picked, with the only alternative being to ask players to stand down from club football for all rep games.