Former Canterbury duo Jayden Okunbor and Corey Harawira-Naera have successfully appealed their NRL de-registrations and could play again this year.
Okunbor and Harawira-Naera were de-registered earlier this year following a schoolgirl sex scandal in Port Macquarie in March.
The league on Monday announced an alternative sanction, with Okunbor banned for 14 games and Harawira-Naera suspended for 10.
Okunbor has also been fined $22,500 and ordered to undergo a counseling or community service, while Harawira-Naera has been fined $15,000.
“The NRL took the action which it considered necessary given the serious breaches of the code of conduct – breaches the appeals committee also found to be serious,” NRL acting chief executive Andrew Abdo said.
“The independent appeals committee has taken a different view on what penalty the players should face and although we are disappointed, we respect the outcome.”
The Bulldogs were made aware of the outcome on Monday, however, it is unclear whether the players will be reinstated at the club.
It is understood the bans will be backdated to round one, which could potentially allow Harawira-Naera to take the field in round 11.
“We are now working with the NRL to determine how this process will be implemented and will await further advice from the NRL on the next stage,” the club said in a statement.
The development comes three months after the Bulldogs acted swiftly in cutting the pair for breaking club protocols while on an away trip.
“The conduct of the two players, on the eve of our final trial match, demonstrated an unacceptable lack of respect for their teammates, their coach and club officials, our hosts in Port Macquarie and fans of the game everywhere,” the club said at the time.