League: Prescription drugs a longstanding problem at the Warriors - Koopu

Wairangi Koopu.
Wairangi Koopu.

Longtime Warriors league player Wairangi Koopu has backed up claims that drug use is a longstanding problem at the club.

And Koopu has gone further, claiming there were also drug issues at the Melbourne Storm, one of the most successful clubs in the NRL.

Former coach Matthew Elliott has said he believed use of prescription drugs was an issue when he was at the Warriors.

And in the wake of the controversy around five players who were stood after admitting to taking the drugs along with energy drinks, Koopu is the first ex-player to expose the problems.

"A few of the boys got hooked on prescription drugs," Koopu told Radio LIVE.

"It wasn't necessarily to take them socially or recreationally, they were just there to help with anxiety levels, travelling, all sort of stuff. Boys did end up relying on them a little bit too heavily sometimes."

The 36-year-old Koopu, who had a 10-year Warriors career, suggested something similar occurred at the Melbourne Storm, where he played in 2009.

"I heard of boys getting hooked on sleeping pills and that sort of thing, but not too much on painkillers," he said.

Koopu said players would have sleeping pill competitions.

"Every now and then the boys would have sleeping pills and then try to fight them to the death and not go to sleep. Of course that never ever worked, the boys just basically fell asleep," he said.

Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino, Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete and Sam Lisone admitted to the club they mixed prescription drugs and energy drinks on a night out following a big loss to the Storm. They were stood down for one NRL game and banned from international selection. Vatuvei is on indefinite medical leave while the others will be hoping for recalls to play against Penrith on Saturday.

- NZ Herald

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