SYDNEY - Canterbury players have played down the impact the absence of four key players — including suspended superstar Ben Barba — had on the team's stuttering start to the 2013 NRL campaign. Barba joined suspended prop James Graham and injured forwards Frank Pritchard and Sam Kasiano in missing Saturday night's season-opening loss to North Queensland. The Bulldogs managed just 12 points against the Cowboys, but the players are adamant the problem more in application than missing personnel. "Penalties and errors really killed us," five-eighth Josh Reynolds said ahead of tomorrow's clash with Parramatta.
SYDNEY - Defiant Manly players remain confident they won't be brought undone by the anti-doping investigation which has rocked NRL rivals Cronulla, but coach Geoff Toovey has demanded his club either be charged or cleared as soon as possible. The Sharks took the first major hit from last month's explosive Australian Crime Commission report when they sacked four members of their coaching staff on Friday and stood down head coach Shane Flanagan. They were punished for allegedly failing to report suspicious activities during a brief period in 2011 when sports scientist Stephen Dank was involved at the club.
SYDNEY - NRL star Josh Dugan has revealed he's battling a "personal" matter as he faces sanction from his Canberra club for drinking alcohol while injured. Dugan apologised for his breach of club policy on Twitter on Monday morning and said he urgently needed to sort out an off-field issue. "This goes beyond the drinking while injured. Yes I've broken team rules but for me it goes deeper and I plan on sorting it out," tweeted Dugan. "I apologise to my team mates and the fans but this is personal and needs to be sorted out as soon as possible for me to move forward". A Raiders spokesman said that the club was considering what action to take over Dugan.