Gallen hits out at NRL's lack of support in ASADA investigation

On the eve of arguably the biggest moment in Paul Gallen's career, the Blues skipper has hit out at the NRL, saying they have done "basically nothing" for Cronulla players and that his teammates were suffering with mental health issues after the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into the club.

A candid Gallen also revealed that the investigation had taken a personal toll and prevented him from having his third child with wife Anne.

Revelations that Essendon players received show-cause notices from ASADA last week has again put Gallen and Cronulla in the spotlight. Gallen said the mental welfare of Sharks teammates and officials was his greatest concern.

Sudden impact: Paul Gallen says the stress of the ASADA probe forced him to put family plans on hold. Photo: Getty Images

Sudden impact: Paul Gallen says the stress of the ASADA probe forced him to put family plans on hold. Photo: Getty Images

"I don't think any of the players aren't worried about [ASADA's investigations]," Gallen said. "The NRL has had the biggest [mental health concern] in history right under its nose and basically done nothing about it. That's very, very frustrating for me because what I have seen some young guys go through the past 17 or 18 months has been disgraceful. They're still going through it, we still don't know what's going on.

"Some very young guys, what they have had to go through, has been too much. As far as I am concerned, there has been very little help.

"We have had players medicated, we have had staff and officials who have been hospitalised. It's terrible."

Gallen was reluctant to speak about his dealings with the NRL but said he had "done everything" to resolve the investigations into his club's supplements program from 2011.

An NRL spokesman said officials had met with the Sharks players “many times” and offered counselling and that the NRL fund a welfare manager at Cronulla and the 15 other NRL clubs.

“As recently as last week the NRL offered assistance to deal with any anxiety among the Sharks players following the Essendon developments,” the spokesman said. “The club advised us that the players were unanimously of the view that they wanted to focus on improving their on-field performance and did not need any assistance.

“The message from the players has always been that they simply want this matter brought to a conclusion. The NRL agrees that the process has taken too long and we would also like to see the matter concluded.”

ASADA boss Ben McDevitt said last week that Cronulla's circumstances were different to that of Essendon. However, it is believed that a decision on whether to issue show-cause notices to Cronulla players may be made before the end of the month.

Gallen said he had essentially been living in fear since the Sharks were dragged into the investigation after the "blackest day for Australian sport" news conference in February last year.

"I would have had another kid by now if this wasn't going on," Gallen said. "It's been horrendous, it's been disgraceful.

"Last year was so intense with it all and this year it seems to come up every couple of weeks. When it comes up, you're like 'here we go, is it coming tomorrow?'

"It has been a real shame it has become a part of life and, every time it comes up, I just wait for the next phone call or the cameras to be in my face because, at the end of the day, no one is worried [about] some of the lesser named players at Cronulla. They're concerned about me, which has been the most frustrating thing from day one."

Sharks players were told as far back as last March to consider accepting a six-month suspension or risk a potential two-year ban.

Gallen said despite the drawn-out investigations he was no clearer to an outcome.

"This is as honest answer as I can give, from day one, from the time Cronulla got brought into it which was a week or so after that press conference, I don't know anything," Gallen said.

"Nothing has changed for me. I have been told to turn up to a meeting. I turned up at that meeting. Other than that, I don't know anything. We don't know anything, our lawyers don't know anything. We literally do not know what is going to happen.”

Cronulla chairman Damian Keogh added: ''That's a major part which I just think has been lost in this whole thing, player welfare, player anxiety and all those things. Also, it's something that our supporters have gone through."

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