Coach Matt Elliott wake-up call on sleeping pills

Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014
Matt Elliott
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MATT ELLIOTT: "The prescription drugs issue is not one confined to rugby league. It's one that elite sports are dealing with now."

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Warriors coach Matt Elliott has dismissed reports the club has banned players from taking sleeping pills, but says he wants to continue to educate his side on the dangers of mixing them with energy drinks.

It may be one of the busiest weeks in the club's history, with there being two trial games - against the Titans last Sunday and Wigan tonight, plus the Auckland Nines at the weekend - but the topic of players mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks is something that continues to bubble away.

The NZRL is investigating allegations some Kiwis players misused prescription drugs at the World Cup and it was reported yesterday that the Warriors had put a blanket ban on the use of sleeping pills .

However, Elliott says that's not the case.

"That's incorrect," Elliott said. "The prescription drugs issue is not one confined to rugby league. It's one that elite sports are dealing with now.

"There's no testing and they're not banned substances but they are not performance enhancers. They are the opposite.

"It's something all of us need to go through, an education process and make people aware that if you make the decision to do this stuff and mix it with other stuff it's not good for you."

Elliott said the Warriors have in-house processes to identify players misusing prescription drugs. But he added he'd prefer the situation to be one where the players were educated enough for it not to become a problem.

"If they are not prepared to take that information on there's an impact," he said. "It's all about education. We can blow this up and make it a big issue, but if you're doing something that you don't think is wrong and it's hurting you and you don't know it's hurting you it's not until someone says it's hurting you."

Elliott said he was unaware if mixing sleeping pills and energy drinks has ever been a problem at the Warriors in the past and is determined not to make it one of the future.

While his focus is on education, he adds that the club's policy over the distribution of sleeping pills is defined by New Zealand law.

"They are prescription drugs. If you have a prescription and you give it to me what you have done and what I have done is illegal," he said.

"You are not allowed to do it. Our policy is, if we give someone a prescription we write their name on it. We don't just give someone a box of stuff and it's theirs. They have some responsibility over that." As the Warriors regularly fly across the Tasman and change time zones, sleeping is an issue and Elliott said sleeping pills will be given out if needed.

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"I heard our doctor say if you take a sleeping tablet to sleep you're going to be OK. "It will do what it's supposed to do. If you take a sleeping tablet and do something that stimulates you at the same time, there will be an issue there both at the time and apparently for a day or two after."

Meanwhile, Elliott said he liked the idea floated by NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle of extending the Nines concept to a six-week series played throughout Australia and New Zealand.

"I think there's a heap of merit in what is being said," he said.

"The NRL is special and heading in the right direction. I think what Jim has identified there is really smart.

"Sevens is a fantastic example of that to the level it's now an Olympic sport. I'm not saying nines would get to that. I'm enamoured with the Olympics.

"Nines has that capacity and maybe it's a tool we can use to develop young players to a high level."

- Fairfax Media

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