Prescription drug abuse in NRL to come under scutiny

The NRL is under pressure to crack down on the abuse of prescription drugs after two South Sydney players were rushed to hospital from an apparent overdose.

Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray were found unconscious at a Sydney home in the early hours of Tuesday morning and rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital in a serious condition.

Late on Tuesday night, the pair were said to have regained consciousness and were in a stable condition.


Rabbitohs chief executive John Lee is awaiting toxicology reports and to interview the pair before deciding their future, while police and the NRL investigate.

The pair were at Gray’s apartment with two friends when they became ill.

One of their friends noticed that one of the players was vomiting and dialled triple-0 avoiding a potential tragedy.

Lee said had others not been there, one or both of the players could have died.

“If there hadn’t been two other people at the unit we could have been talking about a tragedy here tonight,” Lee said on NRL 360 on Fox Sports.

“It was very serious. One of the players has liquid on his lungs so that would indicate it was potentially a life-threatening health issue.

“It could have been tragic and we’re just thankful it’s been averted.”

Lee was insistent that Walker and Gray, who are childhood friends, were not abusing the pain killers “for fun” but described their actions as “dumb”.

Both had undergone post-season surgery – Walker on his left hand and Gray on his right knee – and the details of the incident that landed them in hospital remain clouded.

However it’s brought the abuse of prescription medication to the fore.

Lee said both players could undergo counselling and clinical care to treat their issues.

St George Illawarra halfback Benji Marshall said while the abuse of prescription medication was less common since the NRL clamped down on it several years ago, it was still prevalent.

“It’s a wake up call,” Marshall said.

“Throughout my years in club teams and in rep teams, I’ve seen players take prescription drugs recreationally.

“It’s fine to take them to ease pain or if you’ve had an operation, but to take them recreationally instead of drinking, it’s when you cross the line.”