St George Illawarra prop Francis Molo could become the second player stood down by the NRL a week out from the start of the season after pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge.  

The 28-year-old did not appear in Port Kembla court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to one count of stalk/intimidate with intent to cause fear of physical harm.

An apprehended violence order, which would prevent Molo from approaching the victim, was also sought in court.

The Dragons released a statement claiming the plea related to an incident at the prop’s home on December 17:

“The NRL Integrity Unit was made aware of the matter at the time. The Dragons will continue to provide Francis and his partner with any support they require.”

The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, however, Molo could still be stood down under the NRL’s no-fault stand-down policy.

Under the policy, players facing charges that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 11 years are automatically suspended.

However, players who do not meet this threshold can still be sidelined if the matter involves women or children.

The NRL Integrity Unit confirmed it had been made aware of the incident and said it would not make a decision while the matter remained before the court.

“The NRL will await the conclusion of those proceedings before finalising its process and determining any applicable sanction under the NRL rules,” it said.

It is the latest in a series of off-field incidents plaguing the Dragons in the lead-up to the start of the 2023 NRL season.

The Dragons will begin the season with playmaker Talatau Junior Amone already stood down by the NRL while he remains before the court over an alleged hammer attack on a tradie south of Wollongong.

The club has also fined Zane Musgrove and Mikaele Ravalawa, after they were involved in an early morning argument outside the team hotel in Mudgee following the Dragon’s Community Shield loss.

The NRL season begins next Thursday while the Dragons have a first-round bye and will play their first game against the Gold Coast in two weeks.