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Former Cronulla player John Williams says he "can't imagine the pressure" his former Sharks teammates have been under during the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority saga and hopes the issue will not curtail his own coaching career.
Williams was named as one of 17 members of the 2011 Cronulla squad offered backdated bans over the use of banned substance GHRP-6 and CJC 1295.
The 29-year-old played more than 100 first-grade games during stints at Parramatta, the Sydney Roosters, North Queensland and the Sharks before retiring in 2012. He has subsequently joined the coaching ranks and is overseeing the Roosters' NYC side, which is delicately positioned in fifth place with just two matches before the finals.
"I can't imagine the sort of pressure those guys have been under for the past 18 months": John Williams. Photo: Getty Images
NRL chief executive David Smith described the protracted ASADA investigation as "torturous" for the current players and their families, a sentiment echoed by Williams.
"I can't imagine the sort of pressure those guys have been under for the past 18 months," Williams said. "Not having to play footy, I haven't had to deal with that. I can't imagine what they've been through.
"It's not the ideal situation for anyone, I guess. It's disappointing for everyone involved."
Unlike the majority of current players, Williams is yet to receive a show-cause notice outlining the evidence ASADA has against him.
"I've been in touch with the club to get their thinking about it, where they stand on the issue," he said.
"Obviously I still want to coach there. They have been very supportive, I've been in touch with ... [CEO] Brian Canavan. They have been very good with what could possibly happen. I've been issued nothing as yet so no decisions have been made. What's in the media is as much as I know."
It has been a difficult period for the Williams family. Williams' impending show-cause notice follows the suspension of his brother, Manly winger David, until the end of the season for betting on NRL games, including those he was involved in.
Some critics have slammed the ASADA ban, effectively a three-match suspension due to backdating, when there have been longer suspensions for those who have placed small wagers or been involved in on-field misdemeanours.
Asked if he believed he unwittingly took banned substances, Williams said: "I'm not going to comment on anything around that at the moment. I'll just wait and see if I get issued something and go from there."