No drug problems in Kiwi squad: Kearney

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney insists players misuing prescription medicine is no longer a problem within his squad.

Warriors players Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson were all made unavailable for selection for New Zealand for Friday’s Test against Australia after allegedly admitting to mixing energy drinks with prescription medicine.

It was a problem under Kearney during the 2013 World Cup in England.

But the former Parramatta coach insists the problem is behind the New Zealand team.

“With this group it is pretty well documented that we had some issues at the 2013 World Cup,” Kearney said.

“Most teams will have those types of issues at some stage but I have been very adamant that is not a part of what we are about and we have made the appropriate decisions to make sure that it isn’t.”

On Tuesday Vatuvei was granted indefinite leave from the Warriors on medical grounds.

The alleged incident involving Vatuvei, Matulino and Thompson – as well as Konrad Hurrell, Albert Vete and Sam Lisone – is said to have occurred after the Warriors’ Anzac Day NRL loss to Melbourne.

On Wednesday, former coach Matt Elliott, who was sacked a third of the way through the 2014 season, said he had concerns with what his players were up to in his time with the club.

“I suspected (prescription drug abuse),” Elliott told Fox Sports.

“The last person that knows in those circumstances (is the coach), because those prescription drugs aren’t performance enhancers.

“They’re the exact opposite, they’re performance detractors the head coach will be the last person to know. I suspected as much though.

“I also think it’s an issue right across professional sport. we’ve seen it with swimmers and it’s also an issue across our community.

“Players take the opportunity to use them for a number of reasons. Not only (to deal with) emotional issues, but to get themselves a little bit loose as well.”

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