Penrith Panthers’ young squad will be relying on the experience of Api Koroisau to help lead them to victory when they go head-to-head with the Rabbitohs on Sunday.
The 28-year-old rake is the only member of the team to have tasted Grand Final glory and is a crucial cog in the well-oiled machine that is the Panthers.
Just three months ago, his career was on the brink after Daily Mail Australia revealed he’d breached Covid protocols by smuggling a woman into his hotel room while in Blues State of Origin camp.
His wife, Amy, publicly stood by him in the wake of the cheating scandal, flying into the Gold Coast with their two daughters just days after it came to light.
But Koroisau arrived alone at last week’s Dally M awards alongside some of his single teammates. It is not clear why Amy did not attend.
As Amy’s fellow Panthers WAGs arrived at the NRL’s night of nights in their best gowns, there was a deafening silence from the Koroisau camp about the mother-of-two’s whereabouts.
His wife, Amy, publicly stood by him in the wake of the cheating scandal, flying onto the Gold Coast with their two daughters just days after it came to light
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 at the centre of the scandal developed feelings for the married father-of-two after several rendezvous and late night chats on Instagram and Snapchat.
She was under the impression that there was ‘something special’ between them.
It’s taken months for her to get over the pain and embarrassment of the saga, and was initially disappointed with the punishment the NRL imposed on Koroisau.
He was fined $35,000 and suspended for two matches.
But the woman has no residual ill-will on the game and is still a huge fan, taking full advantage of Queensland’s stake on the NRL in 2021.
She’s been in the stands at her local stadium cheering on her team and – while they’re not in the Grand Final – she’ll still be watching on from home.
Koroisau posed alongside teammate Jarome Luai at the Dally M Awards after his wife Amy failed to attend
In a series of messages shown to Daily Mail Australia, Amy Koroisau told the other woman she was ‘devastated’ and considered leaving the marriage
After the scandal was brought to light, Koroisau claims he started the lengthy process of bettering himself.
‘It’s one of those things where I will keep working on myself every day, wanting to be a better person,’ he told The Courier Mail.
‘I’ve learnt a lot about myself through this season and had to learn a fair bit about me as a person… It’s important that I keep growing.’
Koroisau confessed he’d faced an ‘individual battle’ but hopes to come out stronger at the other side.
His lover previously acknowledged that the backlash and ‘public shame’ Koroisau faced was significant.
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.
Penrith Panthers’ young squad will be relying on the experience of Api Koroisau to help lead them to victory when they go head-to-head with the Rabbitohs on Sunday
‘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.
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 – of the bubble or trust within a relationship.
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.
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 issued a grovelling apology after the fact while Amy admitted she was ‘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 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.’
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 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.
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.
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