Drug accused players return for Titans
By Ed Jackson
16:11 AEST Tue Mar 17 2015
Gold Coast stars Greg Bird, Dave Taylor and Beau Falloon will all come straight back into the Titans’ NRL starting lineup after they were restored to first-team duties on Tuesday. The trio, who have missed the opening two fixtures of the season since being stood down over alleged drug offences, were all named in the Titans’ team to play Newcastle on Sunday.
Their inclusion came after the club restored them and outside backs Kalifa Faifai Loa and Jamie Dowling following independent legal advice from Sydney-based QC Tony Bannon, who said the club should wait until the legal process has been resolved before determining what, if any, punishments to impose on the players.
The return of State of Origin pair Bird and Taylor, as well as reigning Titans’ player of the year Falloon, will be a big boost to coach Neil Henry after his side was hammered 40-0 by Penrith in Bathurst last Saturday.
All five players, as well as ex-Titans Joe Vickery and Ashley Harrison, have been charged with possessing or supplying cocaine following a Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission (QCCC) investigation into a drug trafficking ring in south-east Queensland. Another former Titan, Steve Michaels, has also been issued with an arrest warrant to be served to him when he returns from his commitments overseas in the English Super League.
Bird, Taylor, Faifai Loa, Falloon and Dowling are all intending to plead not guilty and their lawyers and representatives from the Rugby League Players’ Association have been demanding their return to first team duties for over a week.