New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) have hinted that a recovery practice used by their players during the World Cup was to blame for their defeat to Australia in the final.
During the campaign, members of the Kiwi squad were said to have mixed sleeping pills with energy drinks as a way to recover, but it left some unable to function at 100 per cent. The England national football team were also criticised for a similar practice in 2012 when they mixed caffeine pills with sleeping pills.
“We’re very concerned at the health risks involved in this practice and the players involved probably aren’t even aware of the risk they are putting themselves at,” said NZRL chief executive Phil Holden.
“Their behaviour certainly divided the group and, in some cases, probably affected how individual players recovered from games, so it was definitely a factor.
“But we can’t in, all honesty, say it cost us the World Cup title – that would be disrespectful to an Australian side that deserve to rank among the all-time greats.”
The combination is neither illegal nor banned, but the NRL has set up a taskforce on the issue. Clubs are now considering greater controls over the issue of sleeping pills to players.
“We’ve been heartened by the NRL’s response to this, since our players operate in that environment for most of the year and any change can only be achieved through co-operation with their clubs,” said Holden.