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    Reds bar Hunt from training

    2015-02-23 10:45

    Sydney - Karmichael Hunt was overlooked by the Reds on Monday for their next Super 15 game and was also barred from training as he prepares to fight cocaine supply charges.

    The high-profile new recruit, along with five players from National Rugby League side Gold Coast Titans, is due in court early next month over allegations which have rocked Australian sport.

    Multi-code star Hunt, a former rugby league international who switched to the Reds from Australian Rules team Gold Coast Suns, faces four counts of supplying drugs.

    Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) chief executive Jim Carmichael said Hunt had been excluded from the team to play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday as investigations continue.

    "We will continue not to prejudice the player's legal or contractual rights and we will apply the principles of natural justice," he said in a statement.

    "Notwithstanding our responsibilities to our members, fans and wider rugby stakeholders - and although Karmichael was not contracted to rugby during the period in question - the QRU strongly believes it has a duty of care to its employees.

    "As such, we will continue to provide Karmichael with the required organisational support."

    The Australian Football League said Monday it would be in regular contact with the Gold Coast Suns as officials assess the fall-out from Hunt's cocaine scandal.

    The period he is alleged to have supplied drugs was between September 1 and October 3 last year, when he was still employed by the Suns before switching to the Reds.

    "It's fair to say we'll be having plenty of conversations just to make sure Gold Coast Suns are dealing with this appropriately within their playing group," AFL operations manager Mark Evans said.

    Gold Coast Titans coach Neil Henry, meanwhile, said the five players suspended by his club were struggling to cope with the situation.

    They include State of Origin stars David Taylor and Greg Bird, who are scheduled to face court on a number of drug supply charges.

    The players, as well as ex-Titan Joe Vickery, have been implicated in a wider investigation of a Southeast Queensland drug trafficking syndicate by the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

    "They're certainly in varying degrees of being distraught about the situation," Henry told reporters. "It's only human nature. It's a lot of pressure on the players.

    "They understand the seriousness of the allegations but they're bound by their legal representatives not to say much at this stage."

    All five players, Taylor, Bird, hooker Beau Falloon, outside back Kalifa Faifai Loa and fringe first-grader Jamie Dowling, will be called to front the board in the next few weeks to argue why they should not be sacked for bringing the club into disrepute.

    Regardless of the outcome of those meetings or the legal situation, the Titans said none of them would play the club's opening NRL match against the Wests Tigers on March 7.

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