Coach John Morris has defended Cronulla’s culture saying the club does not have a doping problem despite rising star Bronson Xerri testing positive to a banned substance.
The 19-year-old has been provisionally suspended under anti-doping laws and it’s believed the NRL and Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ADASA) is treating the case individually.
The revelations come six years after several Sharks players were slapped with one-year bans by ASADA – the result of an illegal supplements program that ran at the club in 2011.
“I’d like to think the club has moved on from what’s gone on in the past,” Morris told Nine News on Wednesday night.
“We certainly acknowledge that and it’s very unfortunate that we’ve had another case, but it was nine years ago when that incident took place.
“To put that into perspective, Bronson was around 10 years old and 99 per cent of the playing group wasn’t at the club.
“The club paid a huge price for that and then learned a really hard lesson, as did the NRL and Australian sport.
“We’ve put a lot of strict governance programs in place, I’m very comfortable with that.
“We provide a lot of education for our players, led by our club doctor. I’m really proud of the culture at our club and we’ve worked really hard to turn it around. We’ve turned it around both on and off the field.
“We won the premiership in 2016 and we’ve won every championship at every level since then and we’ve put a lot of effort into our elite pathways program, and Bronson is one of those players.”
Skipper Wade Graham served an ASADA suspension in 2014 and is the only player who remains at the club from the peptides scandal.
News of Xerri’s positive sample, which was taken in November, was released to the NRL and Sharks on Tuesday just two days out from the return of the season.
It gave Cronulla mere hours to finalise a team list on Tuesday afternoon for Saturday’s game against the Wests Tigers.
Graham said he and teammates were shocked at the news and trying to process it as quickly as possible.
“I’m pretty shattered to be honest, I’m shattered for Bronson and his family that he’s found himself in this situation,” he told Nine News.