Former player and club boss weigh in on NRL drug saga

Former Wests Tigers player John Skandalis and former Wests Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce. Picture: Jeff McGill
Former Wests Tigers player John Skandalis and former Wests Tigers chief executive Steve Noyce. Picture: Jeff McGill

A former NRL club boss and Wests Tigers great – who both live in Macarthur – have weighed in on the drugs saga that has engulfed the NRL recently.

With soccer and AFL expanding their presence in the region, competition for Macarthur’s sporting kids has never been so fierce.

The last week has seen several NRL players and a club chairman allegedly caught with or consuming drugs last week.

Wests Tigers great and Minto product John Skandalis said the incidents may have “brought the game down”, but he didn’t think it would drive local parents and their kids away from the sport.

“It doesn’t just hurt the players, it also hurts the game itself,” he said.

“It’s not a god thing for us involved in rugby league.

“But I don’t think parents won’t let their kids play rugby league (because of the incidents).”

Skandalis said the age of the players – many in their late teens and 20s – would mean off-field incidents would always occur but he believed the NRL was doing its best to combat potential issues.

“The NRL do a lot already. The players get a lot of education and information,” he said.

“But age is always going to be a massive factor.

“I have kids and I expect them to make mistakes – they’re not perfect – but you have to learn a lesson from those mistakes.”

Former Wests Tigers, Sydney Roosters and Cronulla Sharks chief executive Steve Noyce agreed the demographic of players meant incidents would always occur.

Though he commended NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg for not shying away from the issue of drugs.

“Before you can be old and wise you have to be young and silly. That’s not to suggest people can have a blank cheque (in terms of behaviour),” the Ruse resident said.

“But human beings will be human beings.

“Any community – especially a family friendly community like Macarthur – would obviously be concerned with the incidents that have happened.

“The players are held in such high esteem – particularly by young people.

“But I think parents will get comfort in Todd Greenberg putting his hand up and saying we need to do more testing and education.”