This week saw the mercurial half back Rangi Chase hit with a two year ban for his dalliance with the menace of cocaine and, in the case of the Widnes star, it is the latest in a long line of issues, none of which have been managed effectively as evidenced by his ongoing problems.
The 2017 Super League campaign also saw, right at it’s end, Castleford’s star full back Zak Hardaker hit with a suspension pending an investigation for the same problem and, like Chase, it is merely the latest in a string of disciplinary problems for the Pontefract born player – some of which saw him leave for a short spell in the NRL after his request to leave Leeds Rhinos in 2016 was granted.
These are two recent high profile examples of drug problems in rugby league and, while the RFL must abide by anti-doping regulations from the relevant organisations, perhaps banning these players isn’t necessarily the best way of dealing with it; it may exacerbate the problems the individual is experiencing without the focus and camaraderie of being part of rugby league. Chase’s ex-Castleford teammate Jesse Sene-Lefao spoke out of his worry for the half back, stating earlier this year that ““I am just devastated and really gutted to hear what’s happened. He needs real friends around him at the moment” and many Tigers and England players voiced the same concerns about Hardaker’s well being following his suspension.
I have no doubt that organisations will provide support for those who need it and that networks are put in place around them and, on the same token, rules must be followed in order to ensure fair play and a level playing field in the sport – but the number of times you hear of certain players making the same mistakes suggests that more could be done in order to help the individuals get to a better state of mind in life.