COULD the NRL's summer of hell get any worse?
A player sent to jail, a taxi driver assaulted, drunken misbehaviour and now a referee, yes, a referee, being investigated by the code's integrity unit for allegedly punching a touch judge.
Gavin Morris is accused of striking Terry Pascoe, a Queensland Cup touch judge, at a new year's eve party in Sydney.
He required treatment in hospital for a nasty facial gash.
A photo of the touchie's bloodied face was doing the rounds on social media but has been removed in recent days.
Not before it was emailed to The Daily Telegraph.
Pascoe is understood to have spoken to police about the incident but declined to make a formal complaint.
However he did give a report and his version of events yesterday to the integrity unit, which is treating the incident seriously.
Morris has done 46 first grade games since becoming an NRL referee in 2010. The 33-year-old referee did not return phone calls or text messages yesterday.
Integrity Unit boss Jim Doyle was reluctant to comment because the matter is still under investigation.
However there is concern about the likelihood the allegations may result in player sledging if Morris has any foul play to deal with from here on.
Drama and controversy within the NRL refereeing ranks hasn't been restricted to their on-field performances in recent seasons.
Last year two experienced refs - Gavin Badger and Jason Robinson - fell out and were barred from officiating at the same venue.
The turmoil has resulted in four different refereeing bosses in three seasons - Bill Harrigan, Stuart Raper, Daniel Anderson and now Tony Archer.
The latest allegations cap one of the worst off-seasons on record for player misbehaviour, which included the jailing of the Knights' Russell Packer.
Former Origin and Raiders star Blake Ferguson was convicted of indecent assault and faces sentencing on Monday.
The last week has seen three incidents involving Willie Mason, Dane Gagai and Liam Foran.
NRL'S PRE-SEASON DEMONS
Ben Rogers (Knights) - Player turned club official charged in October with assault after September 1 charity fundraiser incident.
Dylan Walker (Rabbitohs) - Charged with affray over alleged role in November 3 street brawl.
Tyrone Phillips (Bulldogs) - Charged with affray over alleged role in November 3 street brawl.
Reni Maitua (Bulldogs) - Charged with assault over alleged November 25 attack on cab driver.
Blake Ferguson (ex-Raiders) - Convicted on December 11 of indecent assault before Origin II, awaiting sentence.
Russell Packer (Knights) - Convicted and jailed two years on January 6 for brutal November 29 assault. Has appealed.
Richie Fa'aoso (Sea Eagles) - Given good behaviour bond on January 23 after November 24 domestic argument with pregnant wife that ended in drunken police pursuit.
Willie Mason (Knights) - Charged with drink-driving on January 27 after Australia Day bender.
Dane Gagai (Knights) - Banned from Queensland duties on January 27 for missing Emerging Origin training.
Liam Foran (Eels) - Fronted court January 28 over alleged January 12 assault on family member.