Wests Tigers’ star Tim Simona could be deregistered pending an NRL investigation into allegations he gambled on NRL matches.
The NRL Integrity Unit on Friday issued a notice of intention to cancel his registration in relation to allegations he breached rules relating to gambling on matches.
Simona has been prohibited from training or playing with his team until the investigation is complete.
He will have an opportunity to respond to the claims before a final determination is made about his future in the NRL.
The NRL and Wests Tigers declined to comment further on the matter.
It is yet another blow for the club ahead of the 2017 season, after fellow Tiger Kyle Lovett was charged with drug possession in January.
Both Lovett and Simona were reportedly being shopped around to other clubs as the Tigers struggle to retain their top talents under the salary cap.
Last week Parramatta Eels denied reports they had approached Simona, saying they were “satisfied with (their) current options at centre”.
However, salary cap woes exacerbated by offloading former captain Robbie Farah to South Sydney mid-contract at a price of $750,000 still have the Tigers evaluating their current line-up
The club is reportedly on the verge of signing marquee player James Tedesco to a new multi-million dollar contract, after picking up rookie Moses Suli for a reported $1.3 million.
They will now battle to retain off-contract stars Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses and current captain Aaron Woods, who are likely to be in high demand with other clubs.
However, Simona’s potential departure could clear the way for returned footballer Jamal Idris to feature in the team’s starting line-up, 700 days since his last NRL match.
Idris has featured in a number of trial matches ahead of the season opener on March 3 against South Sydney.
The club will be hoping the worst is behind them as they start the new season after failing to finish inside the top eight in 2016.