In a bitter blow for any ambitions he may have had to continue playing rugby league at the highest level, Rangi Chase has tested positive for cocaine and will serve a 2-year suspension.
The former England half-back was suspended by his club Widnes at the time, after failing a drugs test following a loss to Wakefield in July.
The UK Anti-Doping organisation (UKAD) said that Chase tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine – benzoylecgonine.
UKAD Chief Executive Nicole Sapstead made it clear that failing drug tests in sport is serious and that players will face the appropriate repercussions.
“As an experienced rugby league player who has represented both New Zealand Maori and England, as well as Super League clubs, Castleford Tigers and Salford Red Devils, Rangi Chase has tarnished his well-established career with this sanction,” Sapstead said.
“His two-year ban serves as a stark warning to athletes about the very real consequences of taking recreational drugs whilst competing in sport.”
Remarkably, Chase was one of three players to test positive for cocaine in 2017; Zak Hardaker and Adam Walker being the other two.
Deemed as the right man for the job by those that matter most, the Manly Sea Eagles fans, the club has today confirmed that Trent Barrett will remain in the role until the end of 2020.
The news of Barrett’s retention follows the further good news for Manly, who today announced Lyall Gorman as their new CEO.
The Manly board were pleased with the way the club has been run from a playing perspective in the last two years and that influenced their decision to retain him.
“Trent has developed a very positive performance-focused culture amongst the team and football operations staff,” said chairman Scott Penn.
“His contract extension reflects the high regard we have for his coaching ability, and the stability the extension provides the club.
“The club and Trent can now look forward to a positive future with a focus on ensuring a great 2018 season.”
As Manly continue to build their side, Barrett himself is pleased with the side the club has at their disposal and looks forward to guiding his crop of players to potential success.
“We have a very talented and liked minded playing group who I really enjoy coaching,” said Barrett.
“They enjoy playing with, and for each other, and we have all the ingredients for continued success at the Sea Eagles.”
“I really appreciate the support I’ve received from the players, coaches and support staff and also the Board, management, and our Members, fans, partners and the community. I’m now focused on preparing the team for the 2018 season.”
With his World cup hopes now over, Zak Hardaker faces a lengthy ban on the sidelines after he was handed a provisional suspension for failing a drugs test.
Just two years ago, Hardaker was flying high in his rugby league career when he was named the Man of Steel and just this year, he was named in the Super League’s Dream Team.
Although the exact nature of the explicit substance itself has not been confirmed, the Rugby Football League issued a statement on the matter.
“The Rugby Football League can confirm that Zak Hardaker is provisionally suspended from all competition after it received notification from UK Anti-Doping that he had tested positive for a banned substance following a Super-8s game between Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos on September 8, 2017,” the statement read.
“He will therefore not be considered for the England Rugby League World Cup squad due to be announced today (Monday) at 12 pm.”
His current club, the Castleford Tigers, also issued a statement on the matter.
“The club was made aware at 10 am on Thursday morning that the player would receive official written notification from UK Anti-Doping and therefore the player was immediately suspended,” the club statement read.Official notification was delivered on Friday and following discussions with the player on Sunday the decision was taken to announce the result of the test today in order to clarify the circumstances around Zak’s omission.”
“Official notification was delivered on Friday and following discussions with the player on Sunday the decision was taken to announce the result of the test today in order to clarify the circumstances around Zak’s omission.”
Hardaker released his own statement apologising for the incident and the trouble and negativity it had brought on himself, his club and the Super League.
“I would like to apologise to my Castleford Tigers teammates, the staff and all fans for my enormous error of judgment,” said Hardaker.
“I was given an opportunity by this great club and in what has been one of the most important weeks in its history, I have let everyone at the club down. For that, I truly apologise.”
Hardaker was insistent that he would never take any substance to actively improve or enhance his performance.
“Finally, I would like to make it clear that in no way did I, nor would I, ever take a substance with the intention of enhancing my performance,” he said.
In what is an interesting trend to see in recent times, another Kiwi international has made the decision to return to New Zealand to play for the Warriors; this time Adam Blair.
The current New Zealand captain has officially signed with the Warriors for three years and with an impressive 266-game haul in the NRL to date, he will add to that number significantly over the course of his Warriors deal.
“Securing Adam is critical to our quest for much-needed improvement from next year,” said Vodafone Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“He’s a proven leader on and off the field who sets the kind of example we want all our players to aspire to, the epitome of the professional athlete who demands the highest of standards highlighted by an ultra-competitive attitude.”
Someone who is no stranger to Adam Blair is current Warriors coach Stephen Kearney. Kearney and Blair worked alongside each other as coach and player previously at the Kiwis as well as at the Melbourne Storm and Brisbane Broncos when Kearney was an assistant at both clubs.
His signing is one that brings experience and structure to the Warriors forward pack and there was nothing but praise for the Kiwi veteran.
“Adam is a wonderful example of how a player should go about his business in the NRL as well as representing his country,” Kearney said.
“He has had a tremendous career and he’s going to be a huge asset for the club as we go about lifting our standards across the board.”
It is a move that will come as a surprise to no fans as the Canterbury Bulldogs have made the decision to sack coach Des Hasler from his contract.
After a turbulent year on the field and persistent rumours regarding off-field issues with players that led to departures by some – again, leaving fans furious – the decision was made and it was expanded on by Bulldogs club Chairman Ray Dib.
“Today, I informed Des Hasler and his management of our decision to pursue a new Head Coach for our Club, effective immediately.
The heads of agreement reached with Des Hasler for an extension of his contract were non-binding and a decision has been made not to renew his contract for next year.
“These types of conversations are never easy, especially when they involve people we respect personally and professionally, however, the Club believes the decision to change our football leadership was absolutely necessary.”
Although the strong favourite in the eyes of the media appears to be assistant coach Dean Pay, the club say they will begin their search for a new coach.
“The Club will now begin its search for a new Head Coach and will provide further information once that process has been completed,” said Dib.
With their fanbase bitterly disappointed following the speculation and now the confirmation, the South Sydney Rabbitohs club will presumably enter a rebuilding phase after they opted to part ways with head coach Michael Maguire.
At a club board meeting today, the decision was made and in the eyes of the club, it was agreed that parting ways was in the best interests of all involved.
Despite taking the Rabbitohs to a premiership in 2014, Souths have seemingly fallen from the top of the perch since then despite the emergence of some good young talent.
With off-field failings coupled with poor on-field success and a lack of genuine recruitment, fans are scratching their heads at some of the decision making processes going on.
Nevertheless, Rabbitohs General Manager of Football spoke on the matter and said it was the move that had to be made.
“Michael helped deliver the Premiership title in 2014 and for this, we will always be indebted to him,” said Richardson.
“He led us to the premiership victory, the 2015 Auckland Nines win and the 2015 World Club Challenge
“However, we feel it’s time for the Club to go along a different path in terms of the leadership of the team and the direction the team is taking, and they are the responsibilities of the Head Coach.”
Richardson went on to praise Maguire and his efforts and made mention that all parties – Maguire included – were in agreement.
“Michael also feels it’s in his best interest to head in a different direction in his coaching career,” continued Richardson.
“Michael is a great Head Coach and we believe he will go on to do a good job at another Club, but as I said, it’s time for a change here at South Sydney.”
In a huge boost for the New Zealand Warriors and their plans to move forward, influential half Shaun Johnson has re-signed with the club until the end of the 2019 season.
In what he regarded as the biggest contract of his career to date, the 26-year old is thrilled to have his future sorted and settled.
“This was a big contract for a lot of reasons and I’m excited to be able to lock it away and know I’ll be here for another two years,” he said.
“My belief in this club is massive and my belief that we can do something special here is bigger than ever with everything we have in place.”
His two-year contract will see him play in nine seasons with the club and Johnson admitted that having come through the club’s systems and playing with them for so long, leaving would not leave him satisfied.
“I have always said in the past that I could never imagine myself being anywhere else but the Vodafone Warriors,” Johnson continued.
“I’m that kid who came up through the system and I love it here and what the club has done for me. There was more to think about this time but, in the end, it came down to winning.
“I could go to another club and another system but I realised winning there (at another club) wouldn’t mean as much as winning here. That’s what I want to be a part of here.”