“I haven’t had to speak to them [Smith and Snowden]. We’re just getting on with business here:” Newcastle Knights coach Wayne Bennett. Photo: Simone De PeakKnights coach Wayne Bennett said he had not spoken to former Cronulla players Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith about the drugs scandal that has rocked the Sharks or the potential for any aftershocks in Newcastle.
The Sharks stood down coach Shane Flanagan on Friday and sacked four support staff, including football manager Darren Mooney and club doctor Dave Givney, for ”management failures” pertaining to a period in 2011 that is subject to an investigation by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority.
It has been reported that 14 Sharks players face suspensions of between six months and two years for allegedly using supplements containing substances banned under the ASADA code.
Former Sharks players at other clubs have been implicated in the ASADA investigation at Cronulla, but Bennett said on Sunday that it was ”business as usual” for the Knights as they prepare to kick off their season against Wests Tigers at Hunter Stadium on Monday night. Smith and Snowden, who have been named to start against the Tigers, were at the Sharks in 2011.
A Belmont North and Knights junior, Snowden played for Cronulla from 2008 to 2011 then returned at the end of 2011 and played for the Knights last season – the first year of a four-year contract. Smith spent 2011 and last year at Cronulla and arrived in Newcastle last November, having signed a three-year deal with the Knights.
”I haven’t had to speak to them [Smith and Snowden]. We’re just getting on with business here, and Cronulla have got to sort themselves out first before they start worrying about anybody else,” Bennett said on Sunday. ”I’m sure that’s where ASADA is at the moment, and we’ll see what happens after that.”
The Knights were one of six NRL clubs referred to last month in the Australian Crime Commission’s Project Aperio investigation into drugs in sport and organised crime.
Knights chief executive Matt Gidley joined his counterparts from the five other clubs – Canberra, Cronulla, Manly, North Queensland and Penrith – on February 12 at an all-in meeting with the NRL integrity unit, then had a private briefing with ASADA officials. It is understood ASADA officials have spoken to Knights players en masse since Gidley’s meetings in Sydney four weeks ago, but not specifically to Snowden or Smith in the past week.
Asked if there was anything behind speculation that the Knights would be the next club to face the same ASADA scrutiny as the Sharks, Bennett said: ”I have no knowledge of that but as I said, we were one of those six clubs mentioned, so who knows what’s coming? But I’m extremely confident about what has happened since I’ve been here.
”Before that, I’ve got no idea, OK, but since I’ve been here and the staff have come here under [Knights high-performance manager] Jeremy Hickmans and myself, I’m extremely confident.
”And we’ve been told that. We’ve been told there are no issues, by ASADA, with us from that forward position that we’ve had since we’ve been here.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.