Okunbor has also received interest from elsewhere but his priority is to resurrect his career at Canterbury. Harawira-Naera’s manager, Darryl Mather, said the New Zealand international wanted to speak with Canterbury powerbrokers before making any call on his future.
“It’s my understanding that Corey has been reinstated as a Canterbury employee,” Mather said. “We’ll have discussions with the Bulldogs about how they see his future given the decision that has been made.”
Harawira-Naera could be available to interim Canterbury coach Steve Georgallis’ team as soon as next week, while Okunbor still has a month of his suspension to serve.
Bulldogs star Kieran Foran hoped both would remain at the club.
“From my point of view, it would be great to have them back,” Foran said. “They’ve served their time, they’ve obviously ruled that they can be back now. They were teammates of ours, they are teammates of ours. They’d certainly be welcomed back from our point of view.”
The NRL is disappointed its initial sanctions didn’t stand.
“We believe that we were taking the appropriate sanctions,” NRL interim CEO Andrew Abdo said. “It’s important, perhaps, to highlight the fact that the decision that we made around the breach of the NRL rules and the code of conduct has been upheld by the appeals committee.
“This has really been an adjustment of sanction. The appeals committee believes that a sanction that is not a full deregistration was more appropriate and we do respect that, but of course the behaviour that occurred – we don’t believe it is in keeping with our values and our standards and that’s why we imposed a full deregistration.
“We will completely respect the process and the players will be free to play following round 11 and 15. That’s the way the system works. It will be up to the Bulldogs to decide what they want to do with the players obviously if they decide differently the players are free to make their own decisions around what clubs they want to pursue.”