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Player omissions my decision: Kearney

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/05/2016 James MacSmith

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney was involved in the decision to rule three Warriors players ineligible for Friday's trans-Tasman Test due to disciplinary action.

Warriors boss Jim Doyle aroused anger and confusion when he said the NRL club blocked Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson from playing for the Kiwis against Australia in Newcastle on Friday.

The incident has again raised allegation of the use of Kiwi players mixing prescription medicine with energy drinks.

However, Kearney said on Monday he was involved in ruling the trio out of the Test, after they breached Warriors protocol with their off-field behaviour in the wake of the loss to Melbourne a week ago.

"In talking with the hierarchy at the Warriors I am aware of the detail and that doesn't fit our protocol either," Kearney said.

"So from our point of view we made a decision in conjunction with the Warriors. That is important to be clear about. "It is important that Test match football is the pinnacle of our game. But if there are issues at club level that we certainly don't agree with either then we will make the appropriate decisions accordingly."

Samoan Sam Lisone and Tongans Konrad Hurrell and Albert Vete were also prevented from playing in the Pacific Tests this weekend by the Warriors following the same off-field protocol breach.

On Monday the New Zealand Herald publicly aired allegations, that had remained private since the Warriors players ill-fated night out after their Anzac Day loss to Melbourne, that the players had mixed prescription medicine with energy drinks.

It is not the first time the NZRL has been rocked by such allegations. Kieran Foran and Sonny Bill Williams were named as players being investigated for Stilnox abuse in 2014. Kearney said he hoped the players would learn their lesson.

"Regardless who the player is we have a protocol and it is important that we stick to our values and what we want to stand for as a team and those issue didn't fit what we are after," Kearney said.

"It is always important to keep that in mind. It happened at club level and in discussion with (Warriors boss) Jim (Doyle) and Cappy (Warriors coach Andrew McFadden) I needed to know the information for the best interests of New Zealand Rugby League and I acted accordingly. "It is those painful lessons they will learn from and allow them to grow."

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