Dragons' star Talatau Amone's legal team is angling for a stunning NRL return this season, and it's something fellow young gun Jayden Sullivan would welcome with open arms.
Amone was stood down under the NRL no-fault policy in January after being hit with various charges over an alleged hammer attack on a tradesman near his home in November.
With the charge of recklessly inflict grievous bodily harm in company carrying up to 14 years jail, the 20-year-old was automatically stood down until legal proceedings are concluded.
He's yet to enter a plea but the matter was mentioned in Wollongong Court on Wednesday with police confirming the matter will be prosecuted in local court - bringing the potential jail term down to a maximum of five years.
That would sit well below the 11-year threshold for the NRL's policy to be automatically implemented, though none of the charges have been withdrawn.
The NRL and club remain tight-lipped, but Amone's lawyer Elias Tabchouri told the Sydney Morning Herald that he'll be pushing for his client to make an immediate return to action.
"I believe [the NRL] should exercise their discretion in this circumstance to allow Mr Amone to rejoin his team and continue with his career," Tabchouri told the Herald
"He is stood down now in a circumstance where the 14-year sentence doesn't apply and we are still maintaining his right to defend the matter. He is also maintaining his innocence."
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo retains discretionary powers to stand players down where alleged offences involve women or children, which does not apply in Amone's case.
It could have implications for the NRL and it's controversial policy, and certainly for the Dragons on the paddock.
Amone was certain to partner skipper Ben Hunt in the halves this year, but it now appears his close mate Sullivan will get a long-awaited opportunity in his absence having previously sought a release from the club due to lack of a clear pathway in the halves.
Amone's return would again see them competing for top-grade action, but Sullivan says it could never shake his bond with his former Steelers foil.
"Obviously Junes (Amone) is my best mate and I'll support him through anything," Sullivan said.
"The situation we were in, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. We've been battling [for spots] since the first day he came and we both knew that. It's never got between our friendship at all.
"He's my best mate and I support him through everything and he'll support me if I'm playing six [this year]. I love that kid and it's always been that way, we've never switched up on each other."
Amone has continued training full-time with the top squad, as the policy allows, with coach Anthony Griffin confident it won't be an ongoing distraction.
Having lived at the Amone home as a youth, Tyrell Sloan shares an equally tight bond with his lifelong mate and vowed to back him through any outcome.
"It's definitely tough, Junes is obviously one of my best mates," Sloan said.
"We've got his back. As a group it hasn't distracted us too much. We've had a great preseason and so has Junes. He's still been training with us, he's still doing all the right things and putting in the hard work.
"Hopefully everything goes all right and he'll be right to play with us. Whatever happens, happens, I'll have his back no matter what. He's had my back through everything and I'll back him a hundred per cent."
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