Howley issues drug warning
Lions coach Rob Howley hopes the shock of Matt Stevens' failed drug test will serve as a timely reminder to all high-profile players.
Last Updated: 22/01/09 9:56am
Wales and Lions coach Rob Howley hopes the shock of Matt Stevens' failed drug test will serve as a timely reminder to all players about the potential pitfalls of their celebrity status.
Stevens, who has racked up 32 England caps and over 100 appearances for Bath, has been suspended from all rugby after admitting to Sky Sports News that he has failed a drug test.
The 26-year-old faces a two-year ban from the sport as a result, and Howley, although sympathetic, believes Stevens' celebrity status "got in the way".
"When the news came out I was astonished really, I've heard what Matt has said and I'm full of sadness, obviously is an exceptional rugby player - a great talent," he said.
"Matt had a responsibility as a rugby player. Unfortunately, the social side of drugs, his celebrity, got in the way.
"It just shows that you have to be very mindful of the pitfalls that the celebrity status brings when you are an international rugby player or football player or tennis player."
Howley went on to stress that despite all the support players are given by their clubs and countries, ultimately they are responsible for their own actions.
He said: "You can't support players 24/7. Professional players are looked after and the management try to provide everything they can.
"But there will be a time when those players go back home and they have got a responsibility to themselves, to the squad, to the management and to their families."
Leicester prop Julian White has replaced Stevens in England's pre-Six Nations training camp in Portugal, while young London Irish prop Alex Corbisiero has been promoted to the Saxons squad.