Gower 'in line for Panthers captaincy'
Sourced from nrl.comMonday, February 12, 2007 - 5:48 PM
New Penrith coach Matthew Elliott has claimed Craig Gower remained very much in the running for the Panthers captaincy despite his involvement in a nightclub incident at the weekend.
Elliott said the club had cleared Gower of any wrongdoing after talking to witnesses and reviewing closed circuit television footage of an altercation at the Peppermint Lounge in Sydney's eastern suburbs.
It had been alleged the former Test halfback had bitten a man on the neck before becoming involved in a scuffle.
"All the independent inquires that we've made as a club is what we've based our response on and it has really supported what Craig has said happened," Elliott said.
"We had someone look at the CCTV footage...Craig Gower did not insult or assault anyone from the information we've got.
"I don't know how we can make an issue out of it if he hasn't insulted or assaulted anyone."
NRL chief executive David Gallop said he was awaiting a report from the Panthers in the next couple of days before commenting.
A newspaper report claimed Gower had joined a man and a woman on the dance floor of the Potts Point establishment about 2:30am on Sunday.
He reportedly kissed and bit the man on the neck, with witnesses claiming the 28-year-old was heavily intoxicated.
Gower admitted to club officials that he had been involved in an altercation but denied he had attacked the man.
News of the incident couldn't have come at a worse time for the talented playmaker, with club officials believed to be close to reinstating Gower as skipper after he was stripped of the role following alcohol-related incident at a charity golf event on the Gold Coast in late 2005.
But Elliott said Gower was very much in the frame for the captaincy along with several other players, including 2006 skipper Tony Puletua.
"There's some trial matches coming up in the next couple weeks and there will be a few guys who will get the opportunity to lead the team," Elliott said.
"This incident will have no bearing on that decision.
"One thing I can say is that he guy that threw the punch (at the nightclub) won't be captain.
"The message from this is that all NRL players need to chose very carefully where and when they go out.
"If it was a doctor or a lawyer that had been on the end of this no-one would know about it.
"Unfortunately young NRL players who choose to go out and enjoy themselves they need to be very very wise in the decisions they make."
Gower trained in the rain with the rest of his teammates on Monday afternoon, with Penrith to play their first trial against Newcastle in Darwin on February 23.