Warriors coach Matthew Elliott has moved to downplay his links with Steve Dank, the man at the centre of allegations of drug use in both the NRL and Australian Rules.
Dank has been viewed as the common link in the drugs probe happening across the Tasman and reportedly had relationships with all six NRL clubs named in the Australian Crime Commission's report as well as Australian Rules club Essendon.
Elliott coached Canberra (2002-06) and Penrith (2007-11), two clubs being investigated, and also reportedly met with the sports scientist in 2011.
"Initially I was unfazed by [the ACC's report] because I've either got my head in the sand or it's been going on right under my nose,'' Elliott said. "I have been around footy players a long time. I thought it was a beat up, some sort of legal stunt. I'm not sure.
"Then I learned today I got my own name stuck in the paper because I had a meeting with a certain individual. I don't think anyone enjoys that sort of speculation heading your way. I'm not going to worry about it or have a guilty conscience because I not only feel secure that I'm not involved in it, I am pretty much at the other end of the spectrum as far as what I believe players should be doing as far as supplementation.
I'm more down the health route, organic route.
"I have known Danksy for years. When I was playing he was involved in St George. We got hypoxic units and he helped the installations of that and put some connections in that allowed us to use oxygen as well. As an individual, he was pretty helpful but there was no conversation about injecting players and putting stuff into them, that's for sure.
"I have no idea [if he's the bad guy],'' Elliott said. "I have known him for a long time. I wouldn't say we hang around together. I spoke to him a couple of times about the utilisation of those systems and the best way to use them but I really... I hope not. But he seems to be at the centre of it. There's a smoke and fire saying but I really don't know.''
Dank has maintained he has done nothing wrong. He was employed by Manly between 2006 and 2010 and was also involved with Cronulla for five months in 2011 - the two NRL clubs ranked as having the highest severity ratings in the ACC report.
"I am in love with the sport of rugby league and been involved with the NRL for a long time and I really honestly don't think it's a problem,'' Elliott said. "There might be one of two cases there. I don't think this is widespread. If it is widespread and I am proven wrong I will stick my head up and say, 'holy crap, I didn't have that covered at all'.''
- APNZBy Michael Brown Email Michael