David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

NRL: Recalled Warriors unwilling to shed light on history and extent of pill abuse

Recalled Warriors forward Bodene Thompson was unwilling to discuss how prevalent the abuse of prescription pills has been among players at the club. Photo/Getty.
Recalled Warriors forward Bodene Thompson was unwilling to discuss how prevalent the abuse of prescription pills has been among players at the club. Photo/Getty.

Recalled Warriors forwards Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson were unwilling to discuss how prevalent the abuse of prescription drugs and energy drinks is within the club but expressed regret and remorse for their behaviour and the damage caused to the club's reputation.

Speaking to media for the first time since being dropped to reserve grade and stood down from test selection last week, the pair were reluctant to discuss the details of the incident.

Mautlino and Thompson, along with Manu Vatuvei, Sam Lisone and Albert Vete, admitted cocktailing pills and energy drinks on an unsanctioned late night out. Konrad Hurrell said he didn't take prescription medicine that night but was also sanctioned for going out with the others.

Thompson, who admitted his relief at being called back into first grade for Saturday's NRL clash against Penrith in Christchurch and slots straight back into the back-row after missing the Warriors last-start win over St George Illawarra, was unwilling to clarify whether he had previously abused prescription pills or if the issue was a problem for other players at the club.

"I wouldn't know," Thompson said. "We can't really comment on that. It's an internal thing and we're dealing with it as a club and getting the support that we need.

"We know that we let the team down and the supporters and everyone around us. And obviously we let ourselves down, because everything you do reflects on your family and everyone around you, so we just want to regain that trust and respect from everyone around us.

"I'm fortunate to get the opportunity and can't wait to get out there and rip in for the boys and gain that respect back."

Matulino, who will start off the bench against the Panthers, expressed his relief at winning a spot in the NRL side and insisted he had learned from the episode.

"I did a bad thing and put the club under a lot of pressure," he said. "What I did was not a good idea and I've definitely learned from it.

"Cappy (coach Andrew McFadden) showed a lot of faith in me. I feel pretty fortunate.

"I know the boys that played against the Dragons did a very good job and if I didn't get selected for this weekend they (would) have deserved their spot on the team."

After two weeks of negative attention, McFadden believes the players have gone through enough and did not need to be punished further.

Management's hardline stance had put the club's entire playing roster on notice about what standards of behaviour and professionalism are expected and he was satisfied the club's culture could only benefit moving forward.

It's hoped the timely appointment of former All Blacks World Cup winning coach Sir Graham Henry, in his new role as a mentor for McFadden, will also aid the club in their efforts to improve in all areas.

"It's sent a clear message about what we want to achieve as a club and you either toe the line and do what's right for the team, or other things will have to happen," said McFadden.

"When you walk into this business you automatically have a profile so you need to behave in a certain way. And if you don't see that as a burden, and see that you can actually influence people in a certain way, that's the attitude that we want.

"They've served their punishment. It's been pretty hard on them and they've obviously had to own that mistake that they've made.

"But they've done their penance now and they've got the right to move on with their life. I know that they're very remorseful and they want to make up for it."

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