David Skipwith is the Herald's rugby league reporter

Warriors prescription pills scandal: Manu Vatuvei breaks silence

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei has broken his silence about his involvement in the prescription pills and energy drinks scandal that has rocked the club over the past fortnight.

Speaking for the first time since returning to Warriors training on Monday after taking a week's medical leave, Vatuvei spoke of his regret and sorrow at being one of five players who admitted taking pills and energy drinks on an unsanctioned late night out in Auckland.

"It's been really good," Vatuvei told Warriors TV of his time out from the game.

"I've found it tough the past couple of weeks but it's something I've been working on."

Vatuvei, together with fellow senior Warriors players Ben Mautlino and Bodene Thompson, and young front-rowers Sam Lisone and Albert Vete, were last week dropped to reserve grade and stood down from test selection as punishment.

Out of favour centre Konrad Hurrell did not admit to abusing prescription medicine that night but was also sanctioned for going out with his teammates.

Vatuvei's predicament then 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, but today assured his supporters he was happy to be back with his teammates and said he hoped to be back playing as soon as possible.

"It's good to be back in the environment with all the brothers and the club and I've just got to move on from what's been happening," he said.

"The one (problem) was something that I've been dealing with for a long time.

"When you bottle up a lot of things in your head for a long time it comes out at some point. So I think that was my breaking point and something that I'm working on now.

"My body's ready to play but my mind's not there so it's something I need to get right before I can play with the team."

Vatuvei echoed the apologies of Thompson and Matulino, who fronted media yesterday, before directing a message to the club's sponsors and members.

"We're all embarrassed by what we did," he said. "We've got standards in our team and something that myself, having been at the club for a long time, it was not something that I liked to do.

"To all the members and sponsors, (I'm) sorry to have put you in this position.

"I'll do my very best to gain that respect from these guys and hopefully I can do that this year and play well, not just for the club and for the boys, but for you guys and my family."

- NZ Herald

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