The Penrith Panthers have called in the lawyers over a number of vicious social media rumours circulating on the eve of the NRL finals.
The Panthers announced on Wednesday that they had engaged cyber investigators after the rumours spread quickly on social media over the past weekend.
'UNACCEPTABLE': Uproar over $2 million NRL farce
According to the Sydney Morning Herald: “The accusations relate to a former female staff member and alleged sexual relationships during her time at the club.”
Several within the club are furious over the alleged actions of internet trolls, with messages being sent on several social media platforms since they won the minor premiership on Friday.
“Panthers have been made aware of false allegations circulating on social media alleging inappropriate relationships between a former staff member and current staff members,” the club said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The allegations are untrue.
“Panthers have instructed their lawyers and are also retaining cyber investigators to trace the source and sharing of the allegations and to apply the full force of the law including reporting the matter to the Police.”
The cyber crime unit is believed to be the same one used to investigate rumours against former Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold recently.
Seibold also engaged lawyers to look into scurrilous rumours when he left Brisbane.
Several names were passed onto the NRL's integrity unit, but so far no further action has been taken.
“As with the Seibold case, there are some at the Panthers who believe the origins of the rumour may be linked to someone with strong ties to the sport,” the SMH reported on Wednesday.
Panthers seal NRL minor premiership
Penrith clinched the third NRL minor premiership in the club’s history and extended their historic winning streak to 14 with a comfortable 32-12 triumph over North Queensland on Friday.
With just one round left before the finals, the Panthers sealed top spot after losing just one of their opening 19 games of the coronavirus-disrupted season.
Despite resting two players - captain James Tamou and injured star Apisai Koroisau - the in-form Panthers were never threatened by a cumbersome Cowboys side at Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
The Wests Tigers-bound Tamou is expected to return to action and lift the JJ Giltinan shield following next week’s final-round clash against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium.