SYDNEY: High-profile Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne was Tuesday charged with sexually assaulting a woman on the night of the grand final in the latest incident to tarnish the sport.
The 30-year-old is accused of aggravated sexual assault and inflicting actual bodily harm on the 26-year-old after meeting her on social media.
New South Wales state police did not name Hayne in a statement, but he was widely identified in Australian media and on the National Rugby League website.
He was arrested on Monday afternoon and charged in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
“Police will allege in court that the man attended a home in the Hunter region (north of Sydney) on Sunday 30 September 2018, and sexually assaulted a 26-year-old woman,” they said.
He was granted strict conditional bail, which reportedly prevents him contacting the woman ahead of a court appearance on Dec 10.
The NRL said its integrity unit “was made aware of the situation recently and has been monitoring the situation after informing NSW police of the incident”.
Code-hopper Hayne – who returned home in 2016 after an unsuccessful tilt at America’s NFL – already faces a civil lawsuit in the US over allegations of non-consensual intercourse with a woman in 2015.
The Sydney-born star was the NRL’s player of the year in 2009 and 2014. He made more than 20 appearances for New South Wales in State of Origin matches and was capped 12 times by Australia and four by Fiji, where his father comes from.
He also represented Fiji in rugby union sevens and attempted a career in the NFL in 2014, but experienced only fleeting success during a tough first season with the San Francisco 49ers.
He is currently without an NRL club after his season ended with the Parramatta Eels.
The incident is the latest to tarnish rugby league, which has spent years trying to change the sport’s reputation for bad behaviour after a series of scandals.
Earlier this year, Canterbury Bulldogs players were pictured vomiting and stripping naked at a pub during raucous end-of-season celebrations.
And last month, new Australia skipper Greg Inglis was suspended for two games after being caught allegedly drink-driving just hours after his appointment.