Scandal-plagued NRL star Api Koroisau has finally broken his silence about the ‘guilt’ and shame he suffered after almost derailing the entire NRL season earlier this year.
The Penrith Panthers hooker, 28, was found to have snuck a woman he met online into his hotel room during State of Origin camp in June.
He was hit with $50,000 worth of fines and handed a two-match ban from the NRL and NSW Rugby League for breaching the Covid player bubble and for putting entire competition at risk.
The married man also had to face up to the pain he caused his heartbroken wife who has continued to stick by his side in the wake of the embarrassing sex scandal.
Scandal-plagued NRL star Api Koroisau has finally broken his silence about the ‘guilt’ and regret he suffered after almost derailing the entire NRL season earlier this year. Pictured: Koroisau’s wife Amy congratulated him on Instagram for making his long-awaited debut in game three after being 18th man for the first two matches
The Penrith Panthers hooker, 28 (pictured), was found to have snuck a woman he met online into his hotel room during State of Origin camp in June
Now, the star dummy half is preparing to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Sunday’s blockbuster Grand Final – set to be played in Brisbane for the first time ever.
It’s been a whirlwind few months for the troubled talent who opened up about the struggles he faced and said he’s his own worst enemy at times.
‘I’ve learnt a lot about myself through this season and I’ve had to learn a fair bit about me as a person,’ Koroisau told the Courier Mail in the lead up to the big game.
‘It’s one of those things where I will keep working on myself every day, wanting to be a better person. It’s important that I keep growing.
‘It’s one of those individual battles I have to face and I want to come out the other end.’
The star dummy half (pictured waving to fans during on September 28) is preparing to take on the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Sunday’s blockbuster Grand Final – set to be played in Brisbane for the first time ever
Leading into the Suncorp Stadium showdown his form has been superb but in early August he was given a stern warning footy officials that he may never represent his home state ever again after his antics.
‘If the board is to consider further recommendations for his selection in NSW teams it will need to be convinced he has earned the right to be once again trusted,’ NSWRL chief executive Dave Trodden said.
The woman at the centre of the controversy was never contacted by the NRL officials to provide a statement about sneaking into State of Origin camp and breaching biosecurity protocols on two occasions.
But she claims the punishment was not severe enough given Koroisau breached the game’s Covid bubble and proceeded to cover it up for three weeks, despite watching an opposition player get stood down over an almost identical offence.
‘There was all the public shame… but two weeks is nothing,’ she said.
The woman, who does not want to be identified, was surprised she was never contacted by integrity unit officials to provide a statement about the details of the rendezvous inside the team hotel.
‘I’m shocked by the NRL just going off Api’s word… Trusting a guy who brought me into camp twice and a planned third time,’ she said.
Api Koroisau with his wife Amy, who has stood by him despite him admitting to smuggling a woman he met on Instagram into State of Origin camp
The woman who accused Koroisau of breaching quarantine said she met the footballer on Instagram in early June, and their communication quickly moved to Snapchat
The woman claims she was smuggled into the Blues hotel on June 20 in Homebush and on June 27 – the day of State of Origin 2 – in Brisbane.
She eventually admitted the affair to Koroisau’s wife, who was shattered when she heard of the allegations.
Koroisau’s punishment aligns with what Jai Arrow received for a similar indiscretion, but the woman involved says she doesn’t think two games on the sideline ‘teaches these guys a lesson’.
While she doubts the punishment will be a deterrent, the woman said she hopes there will be no further breaches – either of the bubble or of trust within a relationship.
Koroisau will spend one more match on the sidelines before he’s able to rejoin his team after copping a two game suspension
The woman claims she was charmed by Koroisau and quickly developed feelings for him before he suddenly deleted his Snapchat account and told her not to contact him on Instagram in case his wife saw the messages.
Her opinion on the matter echoes that made by others after Daily Mail Australia exposed the breach, with Ray Hadley warning ‘any penalty imposed would not be harsh enough’.
The 2GB broadcaster earlier told his audience the code had to come down hard on Koroisau if he was found to have breached the biosecurity bubble.
‘The NRL has a very big job to do here,’ Hadley said on Friday morning. ‘Whatever they do with the bloke probably won’t be enough.
‘He’s put the entire game at risk and they should deal with him appropriately. I don’t want to see a slap on the wrist.’
Daily Mail Australia understands Koroisau sent grovelling texts (pictured) to his wife after she was told of the incident with the woman during State of Origin
Koroisau in the wake of the incident, issued a grovelling apology while his wife Amy admitted she had been left ‘immensely hurt’ by the revelations.
‘I made the choice to do the wrong thing and my actions have brought shame and embarrassment to many people, especially my wife and children. I will be forever sorry,’ the footy player said.
He apologised to the fans for putting the game at risk and to his wife Amy and two daughters for the ‘pain caused through selfish, thoughtless actions’.
‘I’m determined to become a better partner, father and protector, and hopefully rebuild trust, and earn back your love and our family,’ he said.
Amy has vowed to stand by her man, releasing a statement at the same time which said: ‘Api is a great dad and although this has hurt me immensely I have no doubt he will put the necessary strategies in place to learn from this and better who he is.’
Api Koroisau has been fined $35,000 and suspended for two games after Daily Mail Australia exclusively revealed that he allegedly put the entire NRL competition at risk by smuggling a woman he met on Instagram into the Blues hotel on two occasions. He is pictured with his wife Amy
Koroisau’s glamorous wife Amy will be cheering on the Panthers at this week’s NRL Grand Final
The two-game suspension started immediately, meaning the 28-year-old a game against the Brisbane Broncos and the the grand final grudge rematch against Melbourne Storm last month.
NRL officials stood by the punishment, despite fans and critics alike labelling it as ‘weak’.
In a statement, the league said the penalty was imposed based on the fact that the breach took place prior to more recent incidents involving Arrow and a dozen players from St George Illawarra.
It also takes into account the fact that protocols had only recently been upgraded at the time of the offence.
The entire NRL season is hanging by a thread in Queensland with the state’s chief health officer Jeannette Young reportedly ‘very close’ to tearing up exemptions for players and sending them packing to Covid-riddled Sydney, which would essentially force the game to suspend.
Koroisau called off a third rendezvous with the woman after Queensland player Jai Arrow was dumped from the Maroons camp over a similar incident involving a female dancer being invited back to his hotel. Koroisau is pictured holding the ball in State of Origin game three
Koroisau was the 18th man for games one and two of the State of Origin series, and allegedly first invited the woman to join him at the Novotel in Homebush on June 20.
‘I was told to message him when my Uber was about to drop me off and walk straight into the lifts, where he would be waiting for me,’ the woman said of the ‘strict’ instructions provided to her upon agreeing to meet with him.
Koroisau was in the elevator when the woman arrived, and ushered her directly up to his room.
They allegedly spent about two hours together before Koroisau told her to leave because he had to return to his teammates who were all together downstairs.
Less than 12 hours later, Koroisau and his Blues teammates flew to Kingscliff, where Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk granted them an exemption to ensure the State of Origin could go ahead.
The woman claims the next morning, Koroisau told her he’d be ‘deleting his Snapchat’ because he was heading home to his wife, and urged her not to contact him on Instagram in case his wife read the message. Pictured: An exchange between Koroisau’s wife’s Instagram account and the other woman
On June 27, the day of the second match, the woman said Koroisau invited her to join him at the Sofitel resort in Brisbane – but he warned her it would be ‘difficult’ given he now had a roommate.
She said he suggested she book her own room in the hotel – and even allegedly offered to pay for it.
The woman said she booked a room in her own name and met Koroisau when she arrived. He then took a key to her room on his way out and returned to see her about midnight after his team sealed the series in a 26-0 thrashing of Queensland.
She claims Koroisau didn’t want his roommate to know he was breaching strict isolation rules implemented by camp officials, and that he left her room about 6am.
‘My understanding is that nobody actually knew and that he kept it all hush hush because it was not allowed,’ she said.
The pair planned to meet again before game three, but the woman said Korosiau pulled the pin after word spread that Arrow had been booted out of camp for having a dancer in his room.
‘We didn’t want to ruin his debut… so we decided it would be best that I didn’t come,’ she said.
Following the short-lived alleged affair, the other woman contacted Koroisau’s wife Amy to apologise for her part in what happened.
Despite the State of Origin incident, Koroisau’s wife Amy (pictured together) flew with the couple’s two young daughters to Coolangatta at the end of July to join her husband and his team
In a series of messages shown to Daily Mail Australia, Amy Koroisau told the other woman she was ‘devastated’ and considered leaving the marriage.
‘He’s dead to me now,’ a message sent from Amy Koroisau’s Instagram account read.
Amy flew with the couple’s two young daughters to Coolangatta on the Gold Coast at the end of July to join her husband and his team.
The family spent 14 days in hotel quarantine at a Gold Coast hotel before moving north to the Sunshine Coast, where Koroisau and his teammates are based under the NRL’s Covid player bubble.
Apisai Koroisau (pictured) will be playing in the third Grand Final of his career on Sunday night in Brisbane
HOW API KOROISAU ALLEGEDLY BREACHED NRL’S COVID BUBBLE
June 20: Api Koroisau and the woman begin private messaging on Instagram, but Koroisau quickly directs the conversation to Snapchat
He allegedly tells the woman he is in Blues State of Origin camp in Homebush, and asks her if she’d be interested in ‘sneaking in’ to see him
June 21: Koroisau and his team fly to Kingscliff to escape Covid in Sydney
June 26: Koroisau allegedly contacts the woman again to ask if she’d like to see him again, this time in Brisbane
June 27: The woman checks in to her own hotel room in the Sofitel Brisbane, where the team is playing, after Koroisau allegedly tells her he has been assigned a roommate
That afternoon, Koroisau allegedly arrives at the woman’s room to ‘sleep together’ prior to the match
June 27 evening: Koroisau leaves the room, taking a key with him, to join his teammates and head to the game for an 8.10pm kickoff
June 27 midnight: He allegedly returns to the woman’s apartment about midnight, after his team won the match
June 28: Allegedly slips out of the hotel room about 6am to join his teammates
Later sends the woman a message telling her that he will be deleting Snapchat and not to contact him on Instagram as ‘his wife checks it’
Koroisau reportedly says he will ‘be in touch’ again ahead of match three, when he is back in camp
July 8: Koroisau allegedly messages the woman again to organise to catch up back in camp ahead of game three
He allegedly tells her to ‘come over about 9pm, after dinner with the team’ but backtracks just hours before she’s due to arrive after Queensland Maroons star Jai Arrow is dismissed from his squad for breaching the Covid bubble
Both Koroisau and the woman reportedly mutually agree that he should not jeopardise his debut to see her
July 17: The woman informs Koroisau’s wife of the alleged affair