Photo: Getty Images
Rugby league great Peter Sterling has called for harsh penalties for players found guilty of drug offences, declaring they are doing immeasurable damage to the sport. Listen to the full audio below.
The NRL has been rocked by a number of drug-related incidents in recent days.
New Zealand internationals Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor were accused of consuming an illegal substance after last Friday's Test loss to Australia and their compatriot Shaun Kenny-Dowall was last week charged with drug possession.
On Monday, Cronulla under-20 NYC squad member Jesse Savage was issued a court appearance notice for alleged possession of an illegal substance, two days after Sharks chairman Damian Keogh was arrested for possession of an illegal substance.
Legendary halfback Sterling feels the punishments dished out to players for their transgressions were not harsh enough, saying they "get hit with a feather."
"The reputation of our game copped a hiding the last week," Sterling said on Triple M Dead Set Legends.
"I think that the punishment should be commensurate with the damage done.
"Our old players are better educated than they have ever been, so it just doesn't wash with me, that 'I made a mistake (excuse).'
"I'm over it, I think 12 games first offence and then second offence, two years, performance-enhancing, four years.
"I just think that you've got to draw a line in the sand, the game has got to make a stand."
Photo: Getty Images
Sterling said he didn't understand the thinking behind a free first strike policy for players testing positive for drugs.
"If you ask every player who plays in the NRL whether it's okay to take drugs, every one of them will say 'of course not,'' Sterling said.
'"So if you get caught you know you've done the wrong thing, you should cop a harsh penalty because the damage it does to our brand is immeasurable in some ways."
Asked On Fox Sports NRL 360 about whether penalties for players were sufficient, Kangaroos Test back Darius Boyd said "I think they need to be capped in a certain way.
"There's always these different ones coming up, whether it's a ten grand, fifty grand fine or two weeks or eight weeks.
"There needs to be a certain line in the sand."
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