Reappointed Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney says he has already started work on mending a major rift inside the squad over the world cup sleeping pill and energy drinks saga.
The story that the New Zealand Rugby League was investigating that some players were mixing the two during the cup campaign was broken by Fairfax Media shortly after the tournament ended with the Kiwis humbled 34-2 in the final.
The way the NZRL has handled the issue has caused dissatisfaction among players and also created a rift among team-mates, several of whom remain unhappy with others not preparing and performing at their best for what was the biggest game of their lives.
Others are upset that the names of some players who mixed sleeping pills and energy drinks have been leaked and, in some cases, reported. It is understood that at least one Australia-based player named publicly by some media was in fact not involved. He is angry over the claim and the manner in which the NZRL has handled its investigation.
Earlier this month, winger Jason Nightingale expressed his disappointment that details of the NZRL's report were being leaked.
In recent days, there have been suggestions some players feel so strongly about the issue that they are considering making themselves unavailable for the Kiwis.
But with the Anzac test in Sydney in 10 weeks' time, Kearney says he's confident that he can iron out any problems.
"I think the group will come together pretty well . . . I've already started the process of talking to some key stakeholders within the group," Kearney said.
"I've got no doubt that they'll come together. In my conversations with them, they are keen to be a part of the Kiwi team again, so there won't be a problem there."
The NZRL said it was not prepared to name the players involved in the questionable practice which is not illegal but which Kearney agrees is not acceptable.
- Sunday Star Times
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