NRL Expert @JennaBrooks
Inside the NRL: Drug scandals and injuries
Last Updated: 08/05/17 1:23pm
Jenna Brooks has the latest news from the NRL as a drug scandal rocks the sport, while Johnathan Thurston suffers another injury setback.
It should have been a positive weekend for Rugby League with four of the world's top five countries in action in Sydney. Instead, it was rocked by a drug scandal.
In the space of just 48 hours, three separate events involving recreational drugs allegedly unfolded. Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich, as well as Cronulla Sharks Chairman Damian Keogh, all faced illicit drug allegations.
Kenny-Dowall, who is due to appear in a local court, has been stood down indefinitely by the Sydney Roosters after he was charged with drug possession.
Proctor has stepped down as captain of the Gold Coast Titans, while Bromwich has been suspended for two weeks by Melbourne and has been removed as captain of New Zealand after they were both allegedly caught using cocaine this weekend. The pair have also been ruled out of this year's World Cup.
Keogh resigned from his role at Cronulla after being charged with drug possession.
The NRL released the following statement: "The Game has taken steps over many years to highlight the risks associated with the use of illicit drugs.
"We will continue that work but ultimately individuals are accountable for their own choices, and the League's capacity to eliminate the use of illicit drugs by its participants faces similar challenges to that faced by society."
Just when the Cowboys and Queensland thought they had their star playmaker Johnathan Thurston back, the 34-year old suffered a shoulder injury, but scans revealed it wasn't season-ending.
Thurston, who injured his calf at the start of April, suffered the shoulder injury during the Kangaroos 30-12 Test win over New Zealand on Friday.
In a statement, the Cowboys revealed: "The injury does not require surgery, and it is not season-ending. Thurston will continue to be monitored and treated by the club's medical team."
The Cowboys won't reveal how long the injury will keep Thurston on the sidelines, but the Australia international hasn't missed a State of Origin game since his debut in 2005, and with less than a month to go until the opener, it is unlikely he will be fit.
Josh Dugan's hopes of playing for NSW have also taken a blow after the St George Illawarra fullback suffered a broken cheekbone in the ANZAC Test. He is expected to be on the sidelines for the next three weeks.
Sky sources believe the Wests Tigers are interested in signing Corey Thompson. Widnes announced on Thursday that Thompson had activated his NRL 'opt out' clause and will return to Australia next season.
Vikings head coach Denis Betts admitted he was surprised by Thompson's decision, but wished him well.
"This is a decision the club was not expecting. However, this now frees up a quota space for us to utilise and strengthen the squad in 2018," Betts said.
Mahe Fonua has also been linked with a move back to the NRL. The winger, who signed a three-year deal with Hull FC at the start of last season, has attracted the attention of a number of clubs in Australia.
We also understand Mose Masoe is eager to go the other way and return to Super League. The St George Illawarra prop moved to Australia at the end of 2015 after spending two seasons with St Helens.
End of an Era
James Tamou starred in City's 20-10 win over Country in the final edition of the annual fixture on Sunday. Tamou scored a try, had three offloads and made 27 tackles in front of a crowd of just over 8,000.
Paul Gallen stepped out of representative retirement to captain City, and the 35-year old kicked the final conversion to complete the 10-point win for his side.
The annual fixture was first played in 1911 and would draw more than 50,000 spectators to the Sydney Cricket Ground, but over the years the match has come under scrutiny from both players and coaches.
Country Origin Coach Craig Fitzgibbon said there was an element of nostalgia after the game.
"(There was) sadness around, you have one of the best footy weeks of our lives. We talked about it as a group, it's mixed emotions knowing that can't happen again and even the City staff, they were feeling the same way."
Taylor Returns to Roosters
Jason Taylor will replace newly appointed St Helens coach Justin Holbrook as assistant at the Sydney Roosters. Taylor, who returns to the Roosters with immediate effect, was sacked by the Wests Tigers in March.
He will reunite with James Tedesco after it was finally announced that the Tigers fullback will join the Roosters on a four-year deal from next season.