Rugby league legend Peter Sterling wants a complete overhaul of the way the NRL handles those players that are caught using recreational drugs.

The NRL was rocked by four separate drug incidents over the representative weekend just completed.

Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jesse Bromwich, Kevin Proctor and Cronulla Sharks chairman Damien Keogh were all found to be in possession of cocaine.

The Roosters have come down hardest, banning Kenny-Dowall indefinitely, while Proctor and Bromwich will not be selected in New Zealand's rugby league World Cup squad later this year.

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While the incident happened as Proctor and Bromwich were on international duty with New Zealand, they've also faced further punishment from their clubs.

Bromwich was handed a two-week suspension by the Melbourne Storm and Proctor was stripped of the Gold Coast Titans' club captaincy.

Keogh has stood down from his position as chairman until his court case is heard.

Sterling admits he is disappointed that a stunning week of representative football is not what everyone is talking about, instead focusing attention of more instances of player misbehaviour.

"It was a big weekend of rep footy and it was overshadowed," Sterling said on Triple M's Deadset Legends.

"I'm in for harsher penalties. I don't think two weeks, for the damage done to our game is sufficient. I think we're starting to get in the realms of real punishment."

Sterling admits that the message is clearly not getting through to the NRL stars and says those in charge of the game must get tougher until they do.

The former Australian and New South Wales representative says players found guilty of using or possessing illicit drugs must be handed lengthy punishments - and if they don't like it, they can leave the code for good.

"I think the players get hit with a feather, I really do," Sterling said.

"Whether they like it or not. I know it's a societal problem and all that, but I know our players sign a contract and when they sign a contract there are certain standards that need to be met.

"And when they don't meet those standards, there should be very strong consequences.

"I want players to be accountable for their actions, I want them to take some responsibility.

"If they don't want to abide by those standards, don't sign the contract."

Sterling has even tabled his own form of punishment which he would like the NRL to adopt.

It's a distinct change from the illicit drug code adopted by rugby league officials currently that allows them to escape punishment and not have the details of their offence released to the public.

This loophole, often exploited by NRL stars would be abolished if the league legend had any say in the matter.

"The punishment should be commensurate with the damage done," Sterling said.

"Our players are better educated than they've ever been, so 'I made a mistake' doesn't wash with me. I'm over it.

"I think 12 games first offence. Not 12 weeks, I mean 12 games. Next offence, two years, performance enhancing, four years.

"I just think you've got to draw a line in the sand. The game has to make a stand."

This article was originally published on news.com.au