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Warriors silent on drug claims

NZN 2/05/2016

Warriors boss Jim Doyle won't be drawn on reports that five of the six players banned from first grade and Test rugby league have admitted to mixing prescription drugs with energy drinks.

Kiwis Manu Vatuvei and Ben Matulino, as well as Bodene Thompson, Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Konrad Hurrell were dropped for Sunday's NRL match against St George Illawarra in Auckland.

Vatuvei, Matulino and Thompson have also been ruled ineligible for Friday's trans-Tasman Test against Australia in Newcastle.

The New Zealand Herald reported on Monday that Vatuvei, Matulino, Thompson, Lisone, and Vete admitted to the club that they had mixed prescription drugs and energy drinks after the Warriors' 42-0 Anzac Day loss to Melbourne.

Doyle confirmed the club's position on the players who were disciplined last week.

"We're continuing to deal with this internally, focusing on player welfare. We won't be going into any details and we won't be making any further comment," he said in a statement.

The misuse of prescription drugs mixed with energy drinks came under scrutiny two years ago in an NZ Rugby League review into the Kiwis' unsuccessful defence of the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

The review said some players' practice of mixing sleeping pills with energy drinks as part of their recovery divided the squad at the tournament.

Kiwis management had warned several unnamed players for using the method to recover from games during the World Cup.

While not illegal, the practice had health risks, and left some players unable to function at 100 per cent afterwards.

NZRL interim chief executive Alex Hayton said on Monday that the Warriors had kept the selection panel and Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney informed all the way through their investigation process.

"It's an issue we had back after the World Cup," Hayton told Radio Sport.

"We have a stance we've taken on this, and based on the information we had from the Warriors, the decision was made not to select those players.

"The Warriors kept us informed, they're aware of the issues we had back after the World Cup so it was a two-way dialogue.

"The Warriors are undertaking an investigation and working with the NRL on that."

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