New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney should be acknowledged for his hardline stance on misuse of prescription drug use in his squad, according to prop Sam Moa, as the Kiwis move to finally put the long-running saga behind them.
Warriors stars Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson were stood down from the Kiwis side for Friday’s trans-Tasman Test loss to Australia in Newcastle.
Their absence hurt a Kiwis outfit already hit hard by injury, but Sydney Roosters front-rower Moa said that was just the way it had to be.
“Stephen has to be applauded for making a ballsy call in terms of his coaching career and standing down players who are of high significance to the New Zealand team,” Moa told AAP.
“The message he has given is that no one is bigger than the team, no one is guaranteed of their position and if you are not going to do the right thing by the Kiwi team, if you are not going to adhere to the standards required then you won’t be there.”
Warriors prop Ben Matulino and second rower Bodene Thompson have been recalled for Saturday’s round 10 NRL clash with Penrith in Christchurch after they were also stood down from their club side after admitting to mixing prescriptions drugs with energy drinks.
Kearney had issues with prescription drug misuse during the 2013 world cup in Britain.
Moa said he was confident the issue was behind the Kiwis and that Vatuvei and Matulino had learned their lesson.
“Stephen should be admired for the way he has taken it on and I’m confident Manu and Ben, they are two guys of good character, they are hurting, we will see them again in the Kiwi jersey.”