Cronulla are under pressure to stand down star forward Andrew Fifita after he was accused of physically threatening a junior rugby league referee.
Fifita and his brother David are the subject of an NRL Integrity Unit investigation after a heated clash with match review officials following a Penrith Junior Rugby League game in Penrith on Saturday.
Uncertainty surrounds the allegations after Cronulla chief executive admitted in a press conference that the pair had acted inappropriately and sworn at officials. However, he later back-tracked during a radio interview, saying all facts were in dispute.
The NRL Integrity Unit wrote to the Sharks that they should be stood down if either had admitted to abusing a match official.
Gorman refused to stand down the pair for Sunday’s game against Canterbury, although David was omitted from the squad on form.
The Sharks will now be under pressure to stand down both after Gorman’s initial comments in which he conceded some of the allegations were true.
“Some of the allegations are correct in terms of the match official being inappropriately approached after the match,” Gorman said speaking to the press on Sunday.
“Some foul language occurred towards the match official, there’s no doubt about that.
“There seems to be a little bit more of a grey area in the other second assertion and that’s the facts that we’re trying to tighten up and determine.”
The NRL has pledged serious consequences should the allegations be proven.
“Match officials give up their time because they love the game and the last thing they should be subjected to is abuse or intimidation,” NRL chief executive Dave Smith said.
“It is even more intolerable if someone with the stature of an NRL player is involved – we want the full facts to be presented in this matter.”
Gorman vowed to come down hard on both if the allegations were proven.
While he would not go into potential penalties, he refused to rule out standing them down for the rest of the year.
Three officials had to be escorted to their cars after the game between St Patricks and St Marys at Glenwood.
It has been reported former NSW forward Andrew had to be restrained and physically threatened a referee.
David was filling in as a trainer for St Patricks and after the game abused the referee for not calling a halt to the game when a player was injured.
The referee began filming the episode and Andrew then demanded he hand over the phone, allegedly telling him: “I’ll smash you”.
Gorman said he had not seen the video and expected to receive it by Monday.
Fifita had a forgettable game against the Bulldogs, conceding three penalties.
Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said he hoped to have a resolution quickly.
“We’ll deal with it as a club and be really strong. And as quick as we can do it, we’ll do it,” Flanagan said.
“His performance today was indifferent. He had some real good carries and gave away a few penalties. He had a bit on his mind I suppose.”
The match official’s report will be reviewed on Monday by the PJRL, which will decide whether to hand the Fifita brothers a citation.
If they decide to challenge the facts, the matter will go to a full review panel the week after.
The Sharks said they would wait until the outcome of the PJRL hearing before handing down any punishment while the NRL was awaiting the club’s report.
The loss of Andrew Fifita would be a massive blow for the Sharks in their pursuit of a top-eight spot.
He has emerged from the disappointment of being dropped by NSW during this year’s State of Origin series and rebounded to form, scoring in four of his past five outings.
The Sharks are in sixth following their 18-16 win over Canterbury on Sunday.