David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Rugby League: Betham's baffled by the actions of Vatuvei

Monty Betham, who last week put the remaining five players through a gruelling indoor training session at Mt Smart Stadium, is sympathetic to Vatuvei's plight. Photo / Getty.
Monty Betham, who last week put the remaining five players through a gruelling indoor training session at Mt Smart Stadium, is sympathetic to Vatuvei's plight. Photo / Getty.

Former Warriors captain Monty Betham is struggling to understand how friend and former teammate Manu Vatuvei became embroiled in the prescription pills and energy drinks scandal that has rocked the club and resulted in the fan favourite taking medical leave.

Stood down from first grade and test selection last week as punishment, after admitting his involvement in the drama, Vatuvei's predicament worsened last Monday after he made an emotional but cryptic social media post before responding angrily to online criticism from fans.

The following day he was granted time off by Warriors managing director Jim Doyle and will remain on medical leave while sitting out Saturday's NRL clash against Penrith in Christchurch.

Betham, who last week put the remaining five players through a gruelling indoor training session at Mt Smart Stadium, is sympathetic to Vatuvei's plight, but also questioned the wisdom and manner in which players use social media.

Although Vatuvei has regularly overcome harsh criticism throughout 13 seasons in the NRL, Betham says he has struggled to cope with the intense personal criticism in the past 10 days. Betham is unable to rationalise Vatuvei's recent behaviour with the universally liked and respected character he knows.

"Everything about this whole situation is uncharacteristic of Manu Vatuvei," Betham told Veitchy on Sport on Newstalk ZB' .

"He's a family man, a senior player, who cares so much about both the Warriors jersey and the Kiwis jersey.

"Over the years that he's been at the club, which is 16 years in total, everyone has loved him. He's never had a bad word said about him off the field.

"To be attacked like this is something new for him and I think he is honestly struggling with it because he's never been in this situation."

Betham found it difficult watching as Vatuvei was condemned for his poorly timed Instagram post which resulted in him clashing with several fans. He believes the unsavoury incident highlights the need for players to be better educated about the pros and cons of using such platforms.

"I'm looking at social media and what a lot of players are doing here and abroad and I'm just shaking my head thinking, 'do you even know what you're doing?'

"Social media is supposed to be a tool that helps you with networking and promoting yourself but the way they're doing it, they're just taking away from the brand they've built over the years.

"I don't think Manu did himself any favours, the way he came out and had a go at some people, but that's his natural sort of way that he deals with things, because he's a guy that wants to meet problems head-on. But obviously, in this situation, it's not the ideal way to deal with it."

Despite the hurt, shame and embarrassment the six players are feeling, Betham is adamant they are of good character and says they were all prepared to work hard and accept their training punishment.

"I can tell you, I absolutely punished them and I think they have been punished daily," he said.

"They were willing. They had that look of focus in their eyes. And no matter what I was going to throw at them, they just took it on board and kept going.

"All of these boys, the six, they're good kids, they mean well. And I'm hoping that this is just an act that they will learn from and we won't see it again. They've put up their hands, they're remorseful, and they want to get back and be a part of the team."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 11 Dec 2016 22:26:56 Processing Time: 447ms