NRL players want end to supplements saga

RUGBY LEAGUE

Cronulla playmaker Todd Carney says everybody's over the supplements saga gripping the Sharks and the sooner the NRL deals with it the better for the game.

NRL boss David Smith made a hasty exit from the Auckland Nines launch at Rugby League Central yesterday and left Carney and other marquee players to be grilled about the looming outcome from the 11-month affair that has dogged the Sharks - and the code - since the start of last season.

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The ARL Commissioners were briefed on the progress of the integrity unit's investigation into Cronulla's 2011 supplements program during a 10-hour meeting on Wednesday but ultimately decisions on any penalties rest in the hands of Smith and NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle.

While Smith departed yesterday without facing the media amid speculation the league will reveal the Sharks' fate today, Carney was questioned for about 15 minutes.

Carney admitted he'd grown tired of being asked about it and urged the league to settle the matter once and for all.

"It dampens the game and it dampens everyone's spirits when it all comes up," he said.

"It's a nightmare for everyone. If you're involved, it's scary. And if you're not, the rugby league is a community in the end. We're a family and we want it resolved so we can produce our best week in, week out."

Test ace and former Shark Greg Bird agreed with the former Dally M medallist.

"The players, like everyone else, just want it to be dealt with," he said.

"We've been away for eight weeks overseas where all the media has been about the football and how good the World Cup was over there.

"It was actually a breath of fresh air to not have to worry about it, to not have to deal with the constant barrage of questions about ASADA and what's happening with the situation that's been happening since the first ball was kicked last year."

Bird sympathised with his ex-Sharks teammates like skipper Paul Gallen and with Cronulla players not in the firing line like Carney and Luke Lewis, who weren't even with the embattled club in 2011.

"It's always going to be a tough situation for the players," he said.

"I just hope it gets sorted out and everyone can get on with football."

Carney insisted he was as much in the dark as everyone else.

He said he and his teammates had been asked to carry on as normal with pre-season training.

"I've probably been told as much as you all have," he said.

"I don't read the papers. People ring me and ask what's going on and I say 'I don't know'.

"That's the same now. I don't know."

The NRL's investigation is separate from the anti-doping probe being conducted by ASADA and it is believed to centre on alleged governance failures at the club.

There was speculation the Sharks would be handed a massive fine and coach Shane Flanagan a 12-month suspension, similar to that given by the AFL to Essendon coach James Hird.

"If he was to be stood down, I'd be disappointed and it would hurt our club," Carney said.

"But until that happens, it's all as usual and he's addressed us as coach that his focus is to make us a better side in 2014.

"I've got all confidence that Shane will do that."

AAP

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