Francis Molo (centre) is in line to replace Scott Bolton in the Cowboys’ line-up.Francis Molo is in line to make his North Queensland debut in place of prop Scott Bolton against the Wests Tigers this week.
Bolton has flown home to Townsville after being charged with assault with an act of indecency following an alleged incident at a Bondi club over the weekend.
While Bolton has not been stood down by the club, he appears unlikely to return to Sydney in time for Thursday’s NRL clash with Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
This brings former Brisbane forward Molo into the mix to make his first NRL appearance in three years.
Molo was responsible for a devastating shoulder charge on James Ackerman in a Queensland Cup match in June 2015.
Ackerman died in hospital two days later and Molo was suspended for eight matches by the QRL judiciary.
Molo subsequently underwent counselling and after leaving Brisbane, he has sought to piece his life back together in North Queensland.
After earning man of the match honours with a 176-metre effort in the Townsville Blackhawks’ Queensland Cup win over Souths-Logan a fortnight ago, Cowboys coach Paul Green said he was banging on the door for an NRL call up.
He was 19th man for the Cowboys’ win over Penrith in Bathurst last week and trained with the Cowboys squad in Sydney on Monday.
North Queensland stayed on in Sydney after Friday’s pressure-relieving win over Penrith and on Saturday night the squad was out for dinner at a Bondi bar.
Police were called to a Campbell Parade venue late on Saturday after a female patron made a complaint and Bolton was arrested the following day.
“Everyone was in the venue,” hooker Jake Granville said.
“It (the charge) is not what you want in your lead up and we’re sticking together.
“We’ve got a big job to do on Thursday night against the Tigers.”
Green said the playing group was “shocked” but couldn’t say too much more about the incident.
“The club’s position at the moment is we are making sure that we are working through all the facts. At the moment we don’t have all the facts so until we do I don’t think it is probably prudent that we make too much comment at all,” Green told Fox Sports’ NRL 360 program.
“We are mindful of how far reaching something like this goes and there’s a lot of people involved.”
An NRL spokesman said that Bolton would be allowed to play and the governing body would not interfere with the judicial process.
The 30-year-old Bolton has been granted conditional bail and will appear in Waverley Local Court on June 19.
The allegations against Bolton, who has played 215 games for the Cowboys including their 2015 grand final win, took his teammates by surprise considering his good standing in the game.
“For 10 years he’s never put a foot wrong and it’s something that was really weird,” winger Kyle Feldt said.
“He’s busted his butt for us so we’ve got support for him, we’re all going to be there for him no matter what.”