Recalled Warriors players Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson have promised to make amends with a big performance in their NRL return against Penrith.
The pair were among six players demoted to reserve grade and then ruled ineligible to play for their countries in last weekend’s representative round for breaking team protocol.
The punishment came after a late night out two weeks ago when five of the group were alleged to have mixed prescription drugs with energy drinks.
Prop Matulino has been named on the bench against the Panthers in Christchurch on Saturday, while second rower Thompson is in a starting pack missing the injured Simon Mannering.
Matulino declined to comment on details of the incident that led to the disciplinary action, but admitted he “did a bad thing” and the 23-Test Kiwi said the experience would provide added motivation.
“This week has to be a big one for me,” Matulino said.
“I just have to go out there, do my job and play well.”
Thompson also wouldn’t elaborate on what happened, saying it was an internal matter, but said the past week had been like an eternity.
“You feel a bit embarrassed and ashamed and we know we let everybody down,” he said.
“We just want to make amends for it and that’s what we’re going to try to do this weekend – get a win for the boys, the supporters and everybody around us.”
Coach Andrew McFadden said the incident had had an impact on everyone at the club, but it was time to move on.
“Although there has been been a bit of hurt there, I feel it’s going to make us better as a group,” he said.
“When people make a mistake, they have to be made accountable and that can go two ways, but I think the group responded how they should.”
As for whether Matulino and Thompson were fortunate to be selected this week, McFadden said the six players concerned had served their punishment.
“It’s been pretty hard on them and they have to own that mistake that they’ve made,” he said.
“They’ve done their penance now and they’ve got the right to move on with their lives.”