Dressed to impress ... Sonny Bill Williams with master tailor Arshad Mahmood. Photo: Supplied
THE Sharks won't say it but they are conducting the most thorough of investigations imaginable to find out exactly what controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank did at Cronulla for two months in 2011, and most importantly, if any players continued with what they learnt from him after he was removed from the NRL club. At training on Thursday, the Sharks players were split into two groups - those who were at the Sharks in 2011 and those who were not. The class of 2011 was sat down and told to confess all in a probe conducted by the club. Football manager Darren Mooney had a chat to Trent Elkin - the club's respected former trainer, who is now at the Eels. He would have most of the information the club would be interested in - not because he did anything wrong, but because he was the trainer. No Sharks player has tested positive and I've been made aware that a couple of their players are the most tested - dare I say because they have been targeted - players in the NRL. The Sharks are lucky to have coach Shane Flanagan at the helm. Like the rest of the club, he just wants the truth and won't hide it when he gets it. Flanagan is hoping to go public and front the media this week once he has the results of their internal investigation. The reason the Australian Crime Commission wanted to go public with drugs in sport findings, they say, is based on fear. A fear that if they sat on the information they had that a player could harm themselves - or worse, be harmed. Harm themselves through the use of the performance-enhancing or illicit drugs, or be harmed because of those supplying them. The fear among the clubs is very real. Is there a political element? No doubt. And be sure that when blood-testing capabilities and funding are increased, ASADA will have got what they want out of this exercise. The ACC will be happy when it has nabbed more dealers. Sport is just the road kill.
The Curtis Johnston story coming out of South Sydney's feeder team, the North Sydney Bears, is juicier than a body-building competition in the 1980s. Johnston was stood down by the Bears on Monday because of a series of text messages sent to the Bears, Souths and the Nine Network. But what has not been revealed is that another player, Brandon Dwyer, was sacked by the Bears after the messages surfaced. He was the other part of the message conversation - at least that's what Johnston thought. The Bears decided to investigate the matter after Johnston made drug-related statements in texts such as: ''I used to every off season. Used to run the risk. Now Im there n hopefully will be in the team so I rather not.'' Asked about the source of the substances, he texted: ''Gotta mate can give ya the number. He can get u anything witth in a couple if weeks.'' He also supplied a name and number for an alleged drug dealer - a mate of his who answered Johnston's phone when I tried to contact him. Then there are further boasts about drugs on Instagram which have been uncovered by this column. What has emerged are claims from Dwyer that he was not at one end of the conversation - instead he says his ex-girlfriend used his identity to have the conversation with Johnston - and set him up. It's a claim she clearly denies. Dwyer was sacked even before Johnston fronted Bears boss Greg Florimo. Dwyer has told his story to Redfern police, who contacted me after the story aired. Dwyer was punted, it would seem, because he was expendable as a player - he doesn't seem to have done too much wrong other than have his name mentioned as a part of the conversation. Johnston's mate that he referred to in the text messages is not a footballer but a well-known gym rat. After viewing my story on Nine News during the week, South Sydney co-owner Peter Holmes a Court messaged me via Facebook to say the drugs in sport story had taken a different turn now it was about a human. ''He's not at the top of the game, quite the opposite: he's one of many, many battlers and part-timers. He won't have a big defence fund or be able to get high-priced advisers. He may have made mistakes, he may have done illegal things, but he still deserves to be treated fairly, to be given a chance to defend himself. It's a chance to improve our game, not destroy people. We all just need to be careful at this time. It is an opportunity to improve the game and those people caught in the crossfire must be treated fairly. I am sure the game will come out better for this period.''
Stephen Dank's lawyer, Greg Stanton, is just as skilful a media player as his client. Dank was most impressive on the ABC program The 7.30 Report. He defended himself with poise and had an answer to every question and also managed to toss James Hird under a bus. Stanton was impressed with his client and warned he actually held back some views and facts. He is obviously preparing for the battle to get a whole lot tougher.
The real weapon
Trent Robinson has been putting on a brave face in recent days as his brother goes through hell because he was stood down by Essendon. Dean ''The Weapon'' Robinson was the high-performance manager and so far has been the only person who has been punished by the Bombers. Dean has been in a bad way but support from some of Trent's well-connected friends in the world of league has improved his outlook in a big way.
A hybrid cause
Rocky Elsom is sweating on the outcome of his case against Japanese rugby club Kobe, a dispute which arose when team officials claimed he wasn't fit to take up a deal. Meanwhile he has been working with Frank Gordon Management and NSW Police to support policemen and women who are hurt or injured on duty. They are organising a two-day rugby sevens tournament involving high-profile athletes from league and union. Corporate teams will be either in the rugby league side of the draw or the rugby union side. The top four teams will play a hybrid finals series.
Moses parts sea, nearly
Michael Jennings's deal with the Roosters almost didn't happen because of his manager's ongoing feud with Panthers general manager Phil Gould. Isaac Moses and Gould have been at each other for months - ever since Gould fined Jennings for off-field misdemeanours. Moses ran interference when Gould organised for Jennings to be transferred to the Dragons. He killed off the deal and he nearly did the same with the Roosters when he wanted to push for Penrith to pay a bigger part of Jennings's contract for no other reason than to jam Gould on the salary cap. The Roosters didn't want to get caught up in the stoush.
Glamour gone AWOL
The Roosters have scrapped plans for a glamorous season launch for Sonny Bill Williams. There was a line of thinking that they would parade SBW at the ever-fashionable North Bondi Italian restaurant to create a picture opportunity. The Roosters coaching staff put a stop to that - they are keen for him to have a low-key entry and be one of the boys.
Where's the love?
If Ricky Ponting's family thought they'd see more of him after his retirement they must be disappointed. ''I've been away from home more than normal in an Australian summer because of my Big Bash commitments and the Shield stuff with Tasmania,'' the 38-year-old Ponting said. ''I'm used to it and so is the family, but that part of my life has not changed.'' He must have an understanding wife - Ponting was committed to a CUB sponsorship appearance on Valentine's Day night.
The other Ricky has it
Parramatta coach Ricky Stuart continues to work hard to raise awareness for autism through his foundation. He will host a celebrity pro-am at the Royal Canberra Golf Club on February 25 and among a host of great auction items are two centre-court tickets for the men's singles semi-final at Wimbledon on July 5. The package includes Qantas flights, accommodation and access to the famed President's suite. Anyone wanting to make a pre-event bid can email email@example.com.
Feud gets uglier
YOU wouldn’t know it by the huge smile on his face during the All Stars match, but Ben Barba has been through a difficult time away from the field. The Canterbury fullback and his childhood sweatheart, Ainslie Currie, have separated. He’s be feeling the pain of being away from his kids – but he has moved on with a new partner – Lauren Tweddle and they have been declaring their love for each other in a very public way via Instagram. Currie has used the same forum to brand Tweddle a home wrecker. Barba has great mental strength and that will be tested as he copes with his new situation away from football.
Roosters suit up for success
The Rabbitohs are all about Armani but the neighbouring Sydney Roosters are going up-market with their suits. Apsley Tailors are now the official tailors for the Roosters and they will christen their new threads at their season launch. If you aren’t a suit fanatic you won’t know Apsley are also the official tailors for Fulham and West Ham. Renowned tailor Arshad Mahmood did a couple of fittings with the the Roosters team and board, including Mark Bouris, Mark McInnes, Mark Fennessy and Luke Ricketson. Fennessy and a couple of the players, including Mitchell Pearce were so impressed they purchased extra suits.