THE use of supplements in rugby league are a bit like that of mobile phones in the wider community – we think they’re safe but we can’t yet be completely sure.
News out of Auckland that the old ‘Stillnox’ controversy has made a comeback is obviously of concern. The former Sydney Roosters doctor, John Orchard, once said that people need ‘mental relaxation’ and that if doctors have a drink after work, they can hardly tell others not to.
The mixing of sleeping pills and energy drinks would appear to be a recreational pursuit which is undertaken as a substitute for something else.
It is all part of a bewildering cavalcade of health issues facing our players; issues which they, the game’s administration, fans or all three seem keen to overlook at times as the turnstile keeps turning and the cash register keeps tinkling.
Concussion seems to be something that is in the too-hard basket. No-one has been sanctioned for sending players back out after head-knocks, even though there is no disputing it’s happened.
Prescription drug abuse occurs in all levels of society, in a wide range of human endeavours. Congratulations to whoever it is in the Kiwis camp that raised the alarm. When you bring in experts and employ cutting edge science in a team environment, you also erode the boys club that once kept these things quiet.
Obviously the surfeit of shadowy characters hanging around the periphery of our clubs is the next health-related concern. It’s an issue that has caused us untold damage this year and, thankfully, one which the NRL has taken steps to correct.
Which brings us to supplements. The amount of money being spent on pills at some clubs in reputedly enormous and some players take more of the blighters than hypercondriac New York granny.
Obviously – hopefully – they are not illegal. But there have been few studies into their short-term effects and not enough time to assess long term impact. The concussion uproar now engulfing professional sport could well be mirrored in a decade by one regarding supplements.
Clubs would do well protect themselves legally now by making sure they are comfortable what they are giving their players will not result in a class action lawsuit down the track. WADA is one thing, long term health is another.
The New Zealand Rugby League wants to take a “leadership role” in the abuse of prescription drugs. It would be nice if the sport as a whole adopted a similar philosophy to the myriad other health issues affecting our players.
LEEDS and Wakefield played out an 18-18 draw on Boxing Day in a hangover from an era when rugby league was a winter sport in the UK.
But reading David Smith’s comments the other day about diversifying, and looking at the acquisition of Touch Football, will it be long before the NRL tries to make a move on the summer market?
The Nines are a perfect entry route. Teams of fringe first graders playing to marquees of beer-swillers around the country would seem a profitable concept. Perhaps the Auckland Nines will one day just be the ‘final’ of a tournament that runs from October.
The game’s elite stars need their rest but in rugby union, there are sevens specialists. The money being spent in Auckland suggests there’s an economy there that could support something similar.
COMMENTS time and there were a lot last time around to go through.