Warriors’ Vatuvei granted medical leave

Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei has been granted leave on medical grounds, the NRL club’s managing director Jim Doyle said on Tuesday.

Vatuvei was one of six Warriors dropped for Sunday’s match against St George Illawarra in Auckland after they breached protocol with their off-field behaviour in the wake of the 42-0 Anzac Day loss to Melbourne.

Along with Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson, Vatuvei was also ruled ineligible for Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test against Australia in Newcastle.

Albert Vete, Sam Lisone and Konrad Hurrell were also dropped for the match against the Dragons, amid allegations five of the six players had mixed prescription drugs with energy drinks.

“Following medical advice received today, Manu is now on leave. We would ask that everyone respects his and his family’s right to privacy at this time,” Doyle said in a statement.

“Our focus is on the welfare of the six players involved.

“We are continuing to have meetings with the other players following last week’s events.”

Discussions were confidential, and Doyle said no further details would be released or comment made.

The misuse of prescription drugs mixed with energy drinks came under scrutiny two years ago in a 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, and Kiwis management had warned several unnamed players.

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