Manly's Anthony Watmough has dropped a bombshell by revealing he took the controversial drug Stilnox during his first State of Origin series, saying it led to his exile from the interstate arena for four years.
Speaking before the Sea Eagles' preliminary final clash with Melbourne at AAMI Park tomorrow night, the back-rower said he believed he had been shut out of NSW representative duty after his debut, until his recall in 2009, as a result of a sleepwalking episode in camp before game one of the 2005 Origin series in Brisbane.
''We'll get the story straight now. I took some Stilnox and went walkabout,'' Watmough told Triple M's The Rush Hour.
''They [the pills] just didn't agree with me, and I must have got spotted while I was walking around near the pool. It all blew up from that. It was nothing massive. It wasn't a big thing. I had never had them before and went sleepwalking.
''I was young and I suppose a little bit reckless at that stage, and had a couple and didn't know what they would do. I went sleepwalking, and the rest is history. I remember vaguely bits. I was out near the pool, and I locked myself out and couldn't get in.''
The extraordinary revelation comes two months after Australia's Olympic team was banned from using the sleeping pill in London following former swimmer Grant Hackett's claims he became dependent on Stilnox during his career in the pool.
There have also been allegations in recent weeks of a Stilnox initiation ritual during a bonding night during the swimmers' pre-Games camp in Manchester.
Prescription drugs are also a shady subject in rugby league. Only a year ago South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson said players taking prescription drugs was ''the biggest problem in the game''.
The ARL Commission, led by chief medical officer Ron Muratore, has since begun a year-long study into the use of such substances by players, in conjunction with the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency.
Watmough's comments also come three years after the Queensland State of Origin team was embroiled in rumours of mixing Stilnox with energy drink Red Bull to create a party drug in the lead-up to the third game of the 2009 series.
Watmough, 28, said it had never been properly explained to him during his time out of the NSW team why he was being constantly overlooked.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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