Jack Bird and Gerard Beale are the latest St George Illawarra Dragons’ players to apologise for breaching the NRL’s Level 4 COVID restrictions, as well as New South Wales public health orders by attending a barbeque at the now sacked Paul Vaughan’s house.

While Paul Vaughan’s contract was torn up, 12 other players in attendance were all fined by the NRL and handed one-match suspensions. The Dragons have also mandated further confidential financial penalties against all players, as well as community work as the club look to rebuild their shattered image.

As Daniel Alvaro and Zac Lomax continue to hold out on signing a statement surrounding the events of that evening, putting their position in the Queensland-based NRL bubble at risk, the ten other players involved returned to training yesterday.

Both Bird and Beale took to Instagram to publicly apologise for their actions in attending the house party, which was broken up by police when a noise complaint was raised by neighbours.

Bird stated he took full ownership of his actions.

“I would like to take this time to apologise to my teammates, our coaching staff, the Dragons, its sponsors and members, the NRL, as well as the wider community who were impacted by my poor decision last weekend,” Bird said in an Instagram story.

“I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed by my actions. I should have respected and honoured the rules that the NRL and state government put in place to keep our game going. For that, I am truly sorry.

“I know I have lost a lot of respect and trust from my peers and fans and I will be working extremely hard to earn that respect and trust back.

“I take full ownership of my actions and I know I have definitely learnt from this experience.

“From the bottom of my heart I am sorry and I hope I can earn your respect and trust back.”

Bird, for his role in the party, was hit with a $25,000 fine from the NRL as well as the one-game suspension.

NRL Rd 2 - Cowboys v Dragons
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Jack Bird of the Dragons looks on during the round two NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the St George Illawarra Dragons at QCB Stadium, on March 20, 2021, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Beale, who is on a far smaller contract, was only fined $2,000 for his attendance. The outside back, who had retired before being brought back to the Dragons this year, wrote a similar apology on his own Instagram account.

“To my teammates, coaching staff, St George Illawarra Dragons board, sponsors, members, fans, the NRL community, New South Wales government and everyone impacted by my poor decision making - I am sorry,” Beale wrote.

“I am deeply disappointed in my decision making and actions that occurred last weekend on July 3. I should have respected and honoured the biosecurity rules that are put in pace to protect us. Instead, I had made a disrespectful and stupid decision.

“I am extremely sorry for my actions. It’s important I take ownership of this mistake and learn from experience.

“I hope I can rebuild the trust and your respect in the near future.”

The Dragons will be allowed to spread their suspensions out over a period of between two and four weeks to ensure they are able to field a team each week. The impact of multiple forwards being in attendance alongside Paul Vaughan’s contract being torn up has been reduced by the short-term, three-week signing of Warriors’ prop Jamayne Taunoa-Brown however, who joined the club on Monday.

He will travel with St George Illawarra to their new hub in Brisbane on Wednesday and is likely to be named for the side when teams are announced for Round 17 this afternoon. The Dragons are set to take on the Manly Sea Eagles on Friday evening, with it the second game in the new Queensland bubble.

Grounds are yet to be announced, however, with the Manly Sea Eagles listed as the home team and reportedly heading to the Sunshine Coast bubble, it’s thought the game will be held at the Sunshine Coast Stadium.

The NRL are expected to announce the re-jigged venues for each game over the next four weeks in the next 24 hours.