David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

David Skipwith: Warriors should have come clean on cocktail scandal


The Warriors refusal to come clean on the full extent of the scandal involving the 'Dirty (half) Dozen' players who indulged in the cocktailing of energy drinks and prescription pills only raises more questions about how widespread the longstanding problem remains to be within the club and the NRL.

Read more: Warriors mixed prescription drugs with energy drinks

Club management have their heads in the sand if they continue to think this will all blow over, as they did initially last Friday, after announcing the players had been dropped to reserve grade while refusing to explain any specifics around the matter.

Most voices that questioned the apparent harshness of the punishment in standing the six players down from test selection, have now changed their tune, having learned that Warriors coach Andrew McFadden and managing director Jim Doyle had the full backing and support of both the New Zealand Rugby League and NRL on the matter.

Radio Sport's Kent Johns talks to NZRL CEO Alex Hayton:

But without clarity, fans and the media were and continue to be, left to speculate as to the finer, sordid details of what the players had done on their midweek late night out.

More information was always sure to leak out over the weekend, no matter how well the club believed they had addressed and dealt with the matter "internally".

But the same problem remains, as we are left to ponder to what extent, and for how long, the cocktailing practice has been an issue for the five players who admitted their misdeeds, and the wider club.

And what of Konrad Hurrell, who did not admit to indulging in the melding of substances, but was still punished to the same degree as his teammates?

Does that explain his apparent frustration and contempt last Friday in retweeting a post criticising McFadden, when almost everyone assumed it was simply due to the fact he has been unable to win a NRL starting spot this season?

The fact senior players such as Manu Vatuvei, a church going family man, so long celebrated by the club and NRL as the embodiment of everything wholesome within a frequently marginalised game, and a role model for all players of Pacific Island heritage, together with Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson, saw no problem including rookie forwards Sam Lisone and Albert Vete in their antics, reveals the absence of leadership among the side's supposedly strongest characters.

Supporters and commentators are already calling for a clean out of the club's playing roster, and this situation should make clear which players need to be permanently axed.

But that seems unlikely to happen so long as the club remains intent on not telling the full story.

The effort produced by the first grade fill-ins in yesterday's admirable win over St George Illawarra should be evidence enough that, despite the reputations of the banished group, they would not be sorely missed.

And Warriors fans deserve to know how long this type of group behaviour has been going on, particularly as Vatuvei and Matulino were both members of the Kiwis 2013 World Cup side that was hit by claims that a few players took the energy drink/pills cocktail as a recovery practice.

As happened then, the Warriors players seem likely to escape closer public inspection and spared the pain of being made fully accountable for their actions.

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David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

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