Australia rugby league captain Cameron Smith has urged NRL players to be on their best behaviour during Mad Monday celebrations, saying the game doesn’t need any more adverse publicity.
League CEO Todd Greenberg shot down reports on Monday the NRL had moved against traditional Mad Monday by launching an unprecedented crackdown on illicit drug use during end-of-season partying.
But Australia, Queensland and Melbourne skipper Smith, considered the game’s leading statesman, said players needed to take it easy during end-of-season celebrations.
“Mad Mondays are Mad Mondays; we go out and have a few beers and a bit of fun,” Smith said at the launch of the NRL finals series at Allianz Stadium.
“But in regards to the illicit drug situation, I am very anti any type of drugs, so is Craig Bellamy (Melbourne Storm coach) and the rest of the club.
“So I would like to think all NRL players can be responsible there.
“We don’t need any more bad headlines throughout the finals series.
“At the end of the day players have a position in our game to uphold and I hope they will do that accordingly.”
Greenberg confirmed the NRL integrity unit had sent letters to all 16 clubs last week advising them players would continue to be tested for illicit drugs in the off season. However, he said the NRL has issued the same advice over the two previous seasons.
“It is a reminder to players and the reminder is quite simple: make good decisions if you are playing football or not,” Greenberg said.
“Players are very much aware when they are away from the sport that ASADA still has strong priorities and they have to make good decisions and if you don’t make good decisions there are big consequences.”
Rugby League received another black eye last week when it was revealed Cronulla star Andrew Fifita had been writing messages of support to convicted killer Kieran Loveridge.
“It has been disappointing to see negative headlines,” Greenberg said.
“The integrity unit will talk to him this week, outside of that I don’t want to comment.
“But I am really disappointed. There are lots of things written on players arms and they have great meaning but again players have to choose wisely on the decisions they make because otherwise there will be consequences.”