You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Slater sees NRL issue with illicit drugs

NZN 9/05/2017 Scott Bailey and Melissa Woods

Billy Slater admits the NRL has a problem with illicit drugs that needs fixing, after four players and an official were embroiled in scandals over the representative weekend.

Slater's team at Melbourne was affected with New Zealand captain Jesse Bromwich allegedly spotted on CCTV footage using an illegal substance along with New Zealand teammate Kevin Proctor early on Saturday morning.

Neither were charged, but have faced punishments from both their NRL clubs and the Kiwis.

And while Slater said it wasn't a reflection on his club, he now conceded there was a problem with the sport.

"If you asked me seven days ago 'Is there a drugs problem in our game' I would have said 'no'," he said.

"But sitting here today you'd probably say there is a problem and it probably needs to be addressed."

Along with Proctor and Bromwich, Sydney Roosters centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall is also facing drug possession charges after being arrested in Sydney last Thursday.

Cronulla chairman Damien Keogh has also stood down following similar charges on Friday, while a Sharks under-20s player, Jesse Savage, was arrested later on the weekend.

Under the NRL's illicit drugs policy, players are given a warning on their first offence and entered into counselling, while a second positive test results in a 12-match ban.

A third strike faces even more serious punishments, as determined by the league.

While senior players or coaches from Proctor's Gold Coast, Kenny-Dowall's Roosters or Bromwich's Storm were reluctant comment, Cronulla captain Paul Gallen was far more forthright.

Gallen caused headlines in March when he called for automatic two-year bans for cocaine use, and said he had since spoken to the Rugby League Players Association who said such penalties didn't work.

But he believed there was no excuse, and wanted players to be punished in some way at their first positive test.

"Everyone knows cocaine is illegal," he said.

"It's an illegal substance. And I don't know why the first offence isn't harsher at the moment.

"Even if the first offence is the matter of public notification - at the very minimum - you're not going to put your family friends and yourself through that.

"Something has to be done about that."

It comes after rugby league legend Peter Sterling called for immediate 12-week bans at the first offence on Monday night, followed by two-year suspensions on the second occurrence.

An NRL spokesman told AAP on Tuesday the league was open to changing its drugs policy, but said its approach was already strict on misbehaving players.

"Our testing policy is comprehensive and our sanctions are also among the toughest in Australian sport," he said.

"However we are always looking to improve our policies in all areas and if we identify better ways to approach this issue we will implement them."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon