NRL Captains Call
NRL Telstra Premiership Final Series-Captains Call at Garden Island in Sydney. Rooster Captain, Anthony Minichiello spoke to Fairfax's Daniel LanePT1M55S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2tgcb 620 349 September 9, 2013
The Canberra Raiders face another off-field crisis after two of their brightest stars were drinking alcohol less than 48 hours before their biggest game of the season.
Queensland State of Origin forward Josh Papalii and rookie sensation Anthony Milford broke the club’s code of conduct by going out in Auckland on Thursday night, August 29 - two days before their round 25 match with the New Zealand Warriors.
The Raiders needed to win the game to keep their finals hopes alive, but were belted 50-16 at Mt Smart Stadium to cap off their miserable season.
Josh Papalii. Photo: Melissa Adams
Fairfax Media understands Papalii was physically ill in the corridor of the team’s hotel following his night on the town.
Raiders interim coach Andrew Dunemann declined to confirm reports senior players wanted Milford and Papalii stood down for the Warriors game.
They were also allowed to take to the field in last Sunday’s final game of the regular season, a 38-18 loss to the Cronulla Sharks at Canberra Stadium.
Anthony Milford. Photo: Melissa Adams
Dunemann didn’t go into details of the incident and claimed the key was to addressing the underlying problems within the club’s culture.
It is the latest in a string of off-field incidents involving the Raiders this season.
NSW stars Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson were sacked, winger Sandor Earl was handed a drugs suspension and David Furner became the first coach in the club’s 32-year history to have his contract terminated.
‘‘It’s a welfare issue as far as we’re concerned,’’ Dunemann said. ‘‘It’s easy for people on the outside to say they are getting paid the money, and I’m not making excuses for that, but they develop problems.
‘‘If you’re dealing with three blokes all year like we’ve done - Dugan, Ferguson and Sandor - all the boys underneath them don’t get the attention they deserve and you don’t pick up on the habits they’ve created. There are some massive problems here.’’
Asked if there was an alcohol culture within the Raiders, Dunemann said, ‘‘It’s something we definitely need to look at.
‘‘I’m not putting everyone in the same basket, and with Josh Papalii he hardly ever drinks alcohol.
‘‘But what I will say is there are welfare issues and issues we need to deal with.’’
Raiders chief executive Don Furner and chairman John McIntyre didn’t return calls on Monday night, while Milford’s manager Sam Ayoub said he wasn’t aware of the incident.
Ayoub will meet with Raiders management on Thursday as speculation mounts the 19-year-old will activate a get-out clause in his contract so he can return to Brisbane.
The Broncos have been strongly linked to Milford, who is likely to represent Samoa at this year’s World Cup after an impressive rookie season with the Raiders.
Papalii was on Monday chosen in the Australian train-on squad for the World Cup and the PM’s XIII match against Papua New Guinea.
The 21-year-old turned his back on a rich three-year deal with Parramatta to re-sign with the Raiders until the end of 2016.