Warriors signing caught up in Sharks probe
The Warriors and Kiwis could take hits through the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (Asada) continuing its investigations into NRL players taking performance-enhancing drugs.
A Sydney newspaper has named Jayson Bukuya as one of several Sharks players who have been in negotiations with Asada to accept six-month suspensions.
Bukuya has signed to play for the Warriors next season.
The other players named are Paul Gallen, Wade Graham, Nathan Gardner, Nathan Stapleton, Stewart Mills and New Zealand-born Matthew Wright.
The Daily Telegraph has reported that the Sharks and the NRL have been offered a "no significant fault' defence, which would result in players receiving six-month bans.
In return for accepting these suspensions, the Sharks players are demanding that their current contracts be honoured while they serve out the bans, no-one gets sacked, there is a one-year extension for players coming off contract and they receive a percentage of the salary increase for 2014.
Sharks captain Gallen is reported to have requested three State of Origin payments, at A$30,000 each, and an Anzac test payment of A$20,000, along with A$100,000 of sponsorship, plus two cars and a motorbike.
The players believe they are innocent victims in this saga but are prepared to waive their rights to take action against the Sharks if the club agrees to their request.
However, this puts Bukuya and the Warriors in an awkward position as his suspension would probably run during his time in Auckland.
Warriors chief executive Wayne Scurrah has declined to comment on the issue and said he had not had any contact with Asada.
The NRL said last night that 30 players would be interviewed by Asada.
The Newcastle Knights have refused to confirm or deny whether Jeremy Smith is on Asada's list.
Smith, who is expected to play an integral part in the Kiwis' World Cup campaign this year, was at the Sharks in 2011, the year Asada is investigating whether banned substances were given to players in.
After a round of interviews with NRL players was abandoned following a dispute over the level of co-operation provided by Graham, the NRL will now have a representative at the interviews.
NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle said the players, who include former Sharks, were being advised of specific areas of inquiry and would be required to co-operate with investigators in line with their obligations under the game's anti-doping policy.
"Asada has made it clear that the investigation is moving to an important stage and it remains in everyone's interests that we get these matters resolved," he said.
"Players could face sanctions under the anti-doping policy if they are not found to have provided reasonable assistance.
"It is not possible to put a timeline on the outcomes of this investigation, but it is important to ensure that everything possible is being done to get to a conclusion."