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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 January 2006, 10:03 GMT
Gower demoted after drunken binge
Craig Gower
Craig Gower has been sacked as captain of the Penrith Panthers after being found guilty of misconduct after a series of alcohol-related incidents.

The 27-year-old received the punishment after allegations that arose from a charity golf event on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.

He was alleged to have groped the daughter of former international Wayne Pearce and threatened Pearce's son.

Gower also received a 42,000 fine, 30,000 of which was suspended.

The decision to punish Gower came during a three-hour meeting between the player and the club's board on Wednesday.

"In taking these decisions, the board has considered Craig's exemplary conduct on the field and his genuine commitment to our community over the years," said a statement issued on behalf of Penrith chairman Barry Walsh.

"Nevertheless, his actions on the Sunshine Coast caused distress to a number of people and damaged our club, our game and the National Rugby League."

The incidents took place at a function during the Jack Newton Celebrity Golf Classic just before Christmas, which was used by Gower as part of his stag do.

Gower, who was once a target for Super League side Salford, was also alleged to have held a butter knife to the throat of a Sydney radio personality, damaged a golf cart and walked naked around the Twin Waters Resort.

The Australian half back, who was a member of the Kangaroo side beaten 24-0 by New Zealand in the Tri-Nations final in Leeds last November, has already apologised "unreservedly" to Pearce's family.

Broken curfew

Gower's fine of 42,000 is around a quarter of his salary.

However two-thirds of the fine is suspended provided there are no further incidents and provided Gower "seeks counselling concerning the responsible use of alcohol and off-field behaviour".

Six years ago, Gower was sacked from the Kangaroos after exposing himself to a tourist in Sydney.

In 2004 he was fined after breaking curfew at the New South Wales State of Origin camp.

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