Gold Coast midfielder Mitch Hallahan says the media portrayal of the Suns as a party-mad AFL club gone off the rails isn’t the one he sees.
Rooted to the bottom of the ladder, the Suns have taken an off-field hit amid reports several players were regularly using drugs such as cocaine during end-of-season functions.
A News Limited report says former Sun Karmichael Hunt has named at least five players in a statement given to police following his conviction for cocaine possession in March.
Since the report was published on Sunday, the Suns have launched their own investigation into the claims and another media report suggested the playing group was divided into two camps.
Hallahan, who joined the Suns at the end of last year from Hawthorn, says while there were some issues he noticed upon arriving at the club, it wasn’t as bad as has been portrayed.
“I wouldn’t say it’s got a party culture or anything like that,” Hallahan said.
“When I walked into the club there were certain standards around football preparation that weren’t ideal.
“In my time here, in the last six months, the group has grown enormously.
“There’s definitely no rift within the playing group.”
Hallahan said Suns chief executive Andrew Travis had addressed the players on Monday, outlining the scope and nature of the investigation.
Travis has already indicated his surprise at the claims after giving players the opportunity to reveal any involvement when Hunt was first served notice to appear in court in February.
Hallahan says players are again being encouraged to come forward if they have concerns.
“He addressed the group yesterday afternoon and just outlined where we’re at and the situation,” Hallahan said.
“He was quite honest in the description. Just outlined the severity of what’s going on. Just to be honest and up front about the whole thing.
“He sort of outlined that it was better to come one-on-one to see him. In a public forum it can be uncomfortable for some guys to speak up.”
Hallahan said despite the off-field concerns, the players were focused on reversing the club’s form on the field starting with Saturday’s home game against North Melbourne.
That match will be the club’s annual family day and Hallahan said the revelations hadn’t made him ashamed to be representing the Suns.
“I wouldn’t say it’s embarrassing. It’s disappointing that this has surfaced,” he said.
“We’ll stick together. We’ll support the boys if they need and when they need that.
“We’ve still got eight or nine games to go and as a playing group we’re focused on playing and we’ll let the administration handle the off-field matters.”