NSW Origin captain Paul Gallen has engaged his own lawyer for the coming interviews with Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigators because of fears his high profile has made him a target.
Gallen, who no longer has the same legal representation as his Cronulla teammates, is also understood to have a closer relationship with controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank than the other nine Sharks players due to be interviewed from Tuesday.
The Test forward is the biggest name linked to the NRL doping scandal and would be a prize scalp for ASADA investigators if they find evidence he used a banned substance. As Australian vice-captain, Gallen also has more to lose than most of the 30 NRL players called to interviews with ASADA as any suspension would rule him out of the World Cup at the end of the season.
A leaked document recently revealed Gallen has sponsorships deals with Toyota, Fraser Motorcycles, Blades and PainAway as well as media deals with Triple M, Sky Sports Radio and News Ltd.
The 31-year-old has repeatedly denied having taken any banned substance during the 11-week period Dank was involved with the club in 2011.
Dank also told Fairfax Media on May 19 that he had no professional dealings with Gallen since he left the club but they had developed a strong friendship and remained in contact.
Gallen's relationship with Dank is another reason he may feel ASADA is targeting him as there is no doubt the former Manly and Essendon biochemist is the main focus of the investigation into the use of banned substances in the NRL and AFL.
Dank maintains he has done nothing wrong and said on Thursday Cronulla and Essendon players ''won't have any issues at all with ASADA or WADA''.
Besides Gallen, ASADA investigators want to quiz Jayson Bukuya, Nathan Gardner, Stewart Mills, John Morris, Ben Pomeroy, Ben Ross, Nathan Stapleton, Anthony Tupou and Matthew Wright from the current Sharks line-up.
With the exception of Ross, all were at Cronulla in 2011 and will be represented by Richard Redman - the Melbourne-based former ASADA legal counsel appointed by the Sharks to advise their players.
It has been reported that ASADA investigators intended to interview the other Cronulla players before Gallen and he was aware of that plan.
Despite having hired a different lawyer, Fairfax Media was told Gallen remained supportive of his teammates and they were continuing to back him over the doping allegations levelled at the club.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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