Topics: Rugby League, NRL

Prescription drug abuse running rife in NRL

updated By Raniera Harrison

The recreational use of prescription drugs within our top flight athletes has cast a light on the underworld of professional sport.  

South Sydney Rabbitohs star Dylan Walker and a team mate were rushed to hospital yesterday following a suspected overdose on prescription medicines.

A former Warrior and Kiwi international isn't surprised by the latest allegations of misuse of prescription drugs. 

Wairangi Koopu says, "I did know of one player that had a problem with abusing prescription drugs. He soon got sorted out by the senior group." 

It's still a problem that hasn't been sorted in the NRL. The illicit use of prescription drugs in a recreational manner is running rampant in professional sport and is worrying this former Kiwi international.

Koopu says,"Well from where they've come from, to where they are now, I think the education around drugs, alcohol abuse, money, relationships they have with women has come along tenfold."

Yesterday, news emerged of South Sydney Rabbitohs star Dylan Walker and a team mate being rushed to hospital following a suspected drug overdose. The product of a popular pastime, mixing potent pain killers with energy drinks.

John Lee, the head of South Sydney Rabbitohs says, "This is medication that is not taken for fun, this is medication that is taken for pain, and it is becoming clear that they took too much of that medication."

Koopu adds, "For me it would have taken a lot of the painkillers to get him to that level."

Now the lid has been lifted on the dark underworld of professional rugby league.

"Some have issues with drugs, some have issues with alcohol, unfortunately the rugby league setup is built on a social format," says Koopu.

With so many of our young Māori boys heading overseas to chase the NRL dream, the question needs to be asked, what is being done to protect them?

Koopu says, "It wasn't until the back end of my playing career did things start to get introduced in terms of drug awareness, and not only developing professional players but men."

Not exactly the headlines the NRL wanted to be making before the first preliminary final between Broncos v Roosters this Friday. 

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