Essendon coach James Hird says it would be unrealistic to think the doping drama unfolding at Cronulla would not have been noted by his own players.
As many as 14 Cronulla players have reportedly been urged to accept six-month NRL suspensions over an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) investigation which stems from the Australian Crime Commission report released last month.
The Sharks were told on Tuesday they had 48 hours to accept a six-month ban if they’d used a banned drug - wittingly or otherwise - or face the maximum two-year suspension if later found guilty by ASADA’s investigation.
Essendon are currently under investigation by ASADA as controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank left the Sharks in 2011 to work with the Bombers in 2012.
However when asked if he was nervous about what could happen to Essendon after the recent Cronulla reports, Hird replied: ‘‘No.’’
‘‘We have an investigation of our own going on. Cronulla is something that they’ve got to deal with and they’ll deal with it,’’ Hird said.
‘‘I think it would be unrealistic to say it’s gone straight over (the player’s) heads.
‘‘But our players have been very resilient, very confident and have played some really good football at times.’’
Earlier on Thursday the club said it was not commenting on the ramifications of the Cronulla crisis for the Bombers.
"What happens at other clubs and in other codes has no bearing on us," an Essendon spokesman said on Thursday.
"The club is being investigated by ASADA (the Australian sports anti-doping authority) and the AFL and we've just got to let both those investigations run their course.’’
The Bombers, who will play Greater Western Sydney in Canberra on Friday, have won just one of their three pre-season games.
Yet Hird said he was happy with the high standard of football.
‘‘Obviously it’s hard not to speak about the investigation, but we’re also here to play football,’’ he said.
‘‘Our training and our level of football has been of a very high standard and I expect that to continue.
‘‘The investigation will run its course. The facts will come out, the truth will come out.
‘‘That’s what the club and supporters want, and then we’ll move on.’’
Eight players at other NRL clubs are understood to have been implicated in the latest ASADA investigations.
In the AFL, Essendon players and one player at one other club are the subject of ASADA investigations that they had used banned substances.