NRL: Manu Vatuvei given medical leave of absence

Manu Vatuvei has been given leave from the Warriors on medical grounds following last week's drama when six players were stood down for breaching team protocol.

Vatuvei, together with Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, and young front-rowers Sam Lisone and Albert Vete, and Konrad Hurrell, were last week dropped to reserve grade and later stood down from being eligible for Kiwis selection following a late night out after returning home following their embarrassing 42-0 Anzac Day defeat to Melbourne Storm.

Vatuvei, Matulino, Thompson, Lisone and Vete admitted to the club last Thursday that they mixed prescription drugs and energy drinks. Hurrell insisted he had not indulged and had only accompanied the players and acted as the group's driver.

Warriors managing director Jim Doyle announced in a statement that Vatuvei was given a leave of absence and that the club were also continuing to focus on the welfare of the other five players who were disciplined.

"As we have said, our focus is on the welfare of the six players involved," said Doyle.

"Following medical advice received today, Manu is now on leave. We would ask that everyone respects his and his family's right to privacy at this time.

"We are also continuing to have meetings with the other players following last week's events. As our discussions with all players involved are confidential, we won't be releasing any further details or making further comment at this stage."

Vatuvei yesterday took to social media to challenge his critics. The winger posted a filtered picture of himself on Instagram, with a caption saying: "If you wanna talk about me behind my back why don't you come say it to my face ... Look in the mirror before you say something about other people ..."

Last week, Eels and Kiwis playmaker Kieran Foran was also granted a leave of absence after he overdosed on prescription medication and has reportedly headed overseas to a rehabilitation facility.

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