Canberra Raiders forward David Shillington. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
David Shillington feels tarnished by the labels ''drug cheats'' and ''match fixers'' after the Canberra Raiders were named in the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation into drugs in sport, but he thinks Saturday's trial will come as a relief for the playing group.
The Raiders vice-captain expects to play about 30 minutes against NSW Cup sides Mounties and Wyong in Sydney on Saturday, giving the squad a brief respite from the attention of being one of six clubs ASADA is investigating.
Cronulla, Manly, Newcastle, Penrith and North Queensland are the other five.
While any alleged breaches by the Raiders are considered to be low-level, Shillington said everyone still felt tarnished. ''Yeah, the Raiders have obviously been labelled drug cheats or match fixers … you don't want those sort of accusations coming at you or associated with you,'' he said.
The allegations have disrupted the club's routine, with meetings held to discuss the situation and ASADA coming in on Thursday to talk to the group.
Shillington said the ASADA meeting had actually been a big benefit to the players, who were able to ask the drug body any questions they had.
But he did concede it was better the revelations had been made now rather than in the lead-up to their round-one clash against Penrith at Centrebet Stadium on March 10.
''The meeting with ASADA was a good thing more than a distraction,'' Shillington said.
''The players had a few questions about the size of the operation and hopefully it put a few minds at ease.
''The indication we got yesterday is that it's all very low-level and the Raiders don't have too much to worry about.
''That's encouraging for the club, players, fans and sponsors.
''We have a trial this week and thank God it's not round one and we're not playing for points, because with of all the distractions it would be a real challenge to lift for this week.''
Raiders coach David Furner said he didn't want to get caught up in the ''circus'' surrounding the investigation and said all the players were concentrating on the job at hand.
After a barrage of questions relating to the ASADA inquiry, his face lit up when finally asked a football question - an indication Shillington wasn't the only one looking forward to the trial.
''A lot's been said, I know this morning I won't be saying too much but I'll be talking about football,'' Furner said.
''Has there been any distractions there? I think the players have shown they've been quite focused on this trial coming up and obviously at training.''
Penrith general manager Phil Gould was quick to slam the way the Australian Crime Commission's report was released last week, with a lack of information and ''a broad-brush condemnation of Australian sport everywhere'' his main concerns.
While Furner took a more tempered approach, he agreed with Gould's sentiment - it could have been handled better.
''The way it was broken is the reason we have so much hysteria at the moment,'' Furner said.
''A lot of people have voiced their opinions and I support them … I am not happy, but everything has been said.
''I've asked our staff and our coaches to now focus on football.
''Right from the start I have said that until something comes out it's out of our control. That's where we've left it.''