Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is standing by "shaken" hooker Tom Starling, adamant "no one in their right mind" would reach for an officer's gun as police claim he did.
The Raiders mentor says he would "probably be more disappointed" if Starling didn't defend his mother and brother, as he said he was when recounting the event.
Starling was charged with five counts of assaulting an officer in the execution of duty, as well as affray and resisting or hindering an officer following a brawl on the Central Coast on Saturday night.
However the 22-year-old will claim he never threw a punch and was not acting aggressively, telling Raiders officials he only moved to intervene when a brawl erupted between security and his 19-year-old brother.
Police say the Raiders player reached for an officer's pistol before they punched him, leaving Starling bloodied and bruised before he was taken to Gosford Police Station.
Stuart has backed the Raiders livewire's version of events, after he said the altercation was caused by claims a bouncer made a derogatory comment towards Starling's mother.
"Speaking to Tom, defending his mother and his brother is something I was obviously okay with. If he didn't jump in to defend his mother and brother, I would probably be more disappointed in the guy," Stuart said.
"His version of events is a lot different to what has been publicly stated. If his version of events is truthful, which I have no doubt it will be because he's not a guy that's going to lie to me, I think he'll be okay.
"He was shaken up and disappointed. It's not in his nature. The point today that is out there about reaching for an officer's gun, no one in their right mind would do that, I highly unlikely think Tommy would.
"I certainly hope it hasn't been the case. It's before the courts now and they'll handle it, hopefully it doesn't drag on for too long for our sake and the game's sake.
"I'm all about the game too, and there have been headlines over the past month to six weeks that are not good for our game. Hopefully we can put it to bed very quickly."
Starling was at the Shady Palms Bar Restaurant to celebrate the 21st birthday of a family friend, the brother of Newcastle Knights player Connor Watson.
A handful of other NRL identities were there, with Knights duo Kalyn Ponga and Jack Johns to be quizzed by league officials to help them paint a clear picture of what happened. Neither of the pair were involved.
Starling was due to begin pre-season training with the Raiders' first to fourth-year players at the club's Braddon headquarters on Monday, but Stuart gave him the day off. Raiders officials are in discussions with the NRL integrity unit and NSW Police to investigate.
Starling's arrest marks the second time in a calendar year a Raiders player has faced police charges following Curtis Scott's "wrongful" arrest on January 27.
Seven charges levelled at the Raiders centre were ultimately dismissed to leave Scott's lawyer Sam Macedone seeking a six-figure pay out for his client, after "hard to stomach" footage of the arrest was shown in court.
Stuart believes the club handled that saga as well as it could have as the matter dragged on for the majority of the NRL season and affected Scott's mental wellbeing.
Now the Raiders mentor hopes Starling's case doesn't drag on in the court system, both "for Tommy's sake and for the club" as the emerging rake prepares to join his teammates for pre-season training.
"They'll get behind him and support Tommy. That's just our DNA here, and I don't say that lightly. We'll support Tom and just move on," Stuart said.
"We've got a season to prepare for now. We'll make sure we get right behind him and move on with our football. Tom is a good person, he will come into our football program [on Tuesday] and start again."
Starling was one of four men charged after police were allegedly assaulted during the brawl, which kicked off after police were called to the venue for an issue regarding another patron who had already left.
All four men were arrested following assistance from the riot squad, with the remainder of the group charged with similar offences to Starling, and granted conditional bail to appear at Gosford Local Court on January 21 next year.
A male senior constable sustained a cut on his hand during the incident, while Starling was left with cuts and bruises on his face and a 20-year-old man was taken to hospital to treat a laceration on his arm.
"It is disappointing. I've spoken to Tom at length," Stuart said. "He hasn't been stood down as yet by the NRL."