These past few days has sadly seen the game embroiled in more drugs controversies – and of all weeks, it’s the one where five International games were played on Australian soil.
Leading up to the weekend it was reported that former Kiwi Test player and Roosters back Shaun Kenny-Dowall had been arrested for possession of cocaine.
This was on the back of drugs scandals in the past season. Last July Corey Norman was suspended for possession of recreational drugs, among other charges, and copped an eight-week ban from the NRL.
In November last year, Ben Barba was suspended by the NRL for 12 weeks for failing a drug test where it was found he had cocaine in his system.
In January this year, Newcastle’s Jarrod Mullen was found guilty of using a banned performance-enhancing steroid and handed a career-ending four-year ban.
In February this year, Wests Tigers back rower Kyle Lovett pleaded guilty to possessing drugs and was subsequently handed a four-game suspension and $15,000 fine.
A fortnight later came revelations that Lovett’s team mate Tim Simona had used cocaine while also being found guilty of betting on games – and against his own team – among other atrocities. Simona claimed he and a number of players were using the drug on a mad Monday cruise. Simona was essentially handed a life ban.
After Kenny-Dowall’s incident followed a story of Cronulla’s now former board chairman Damian Keogh, who was found to be in possession of cocaine. He stepped down from his role immediately.
Then news broke that Titans co-captain Kevin Proctor and the New Zealand Test captain and high-profile Storm front-rower Jesse Bromwich had been seen on CCTV cameras buying and consuming cocaine in Canberra just hours after their side lost to Australia.
Both players are awaiting punishment from the NRL, but have issued apologies while being stood down by their respective clubs.
The Titans and Storm have asked for ‘please explains’ from the New Zealand Rugby League in regards to why the players weren’t being supervised.
Therein lies the problem.
Proctor and Bromwich are 28-year-old men. Professional athletes. They hear more talks about the negative consequences of drugs on themselves personally and professionally than near any other people in the world.
They are 28-year-old men.
Proctor was the co-captain at the Titans while Bromwich was essentially next in line to take over the Storm captaincy from Cameron Smith when he retires, given that Bromwich was also the New Zealand Test skipper. They were considered as leaders.
The fact these 28-year-old men have issued apologies proves an element of guilt and remorse.
They’ve been told ad-nauseam to stay away from drugs. They knew they were doing the wrong thing.
There are zero excuses. For the Storm and Titans clubs to be demanding why they weren’t supervised is both pointless and pathetic.
They are 28-year-old men. They are club and Test leaders. They should not need babysitters. The Storm and Titans have no need or right to try and shift some of the blame for the mindlessly stupid actions of these players onto the management of the Kiwis.
These 28-year-old men only have themselves to blame. They are bloody stupid and given their standing at club and international level, should be punished heavily.
With the number of drug-related incidents rising in the past 12 months, the NRL now has the perfect opportunity to stamp this rubbish out of the game for good by cracking down on two big-name players who have tarnished the NRL and the International game.
The New Zealand management have absolutely zero to answer for and they should make that very public and clear.
****This article appeared on Commentary Box Sports website on May 8, 2017****