Danny Weidler: Dank ready to come to Sharks’ rescue

This’ll do: Paul Gallen with his wife Anne and his latest ring. Photo: Dallas KilponenSports scientist Stephen Dank has refused an interview with ASADA but he wants Sharks players and their coach, Shane Flanagan, to know he is in their corner in the strongest possible way. And the main reason Dank is so keen to help them is due to his enormous respect and strong friendship with their captain, Paul Gallen.

The pair hit it off when he was at the club and they remain mates despite everything that has happened. Dank has regard for Gallen’s leadership and considers him the finest skipper he has dealt with during his time in the NRL and the AFL. Their relationship is one of genuine mateship and Dank says they have had no professional dealings since he left the club in 2011. Dank says he will give the Cronulla players whatever assistance they need should infraction notices be issued. Dank has sat back and watched his name get trashed – much of it based on leaks from the Kavanagh report, a document that contains some truth but is by no means even close to an accurate account of what happened in 2011 at the Sharks. Things have been taken as fact when they are plain wrong.

Dank has no problem supporting the players when the time is right. “Since early February this year, much has been written and said about the inevitability of prosecutions and that convictions will follow for doping violations, yet to date no specific allegation has ever been made detailing substances, persons involved, dates, places and how and why a violation took place. I can’t make this any more clear and I don’t know why people won’t listen to this – no Cronulla player or coach Shane Flanagan have anything to fear,” he said. ”It’s as simple as that and that will be proved. If or when prosecutions are commenced I will be available to assist their legal teams, if asked, to meet the allegations.

I am confident that no wrongdoing has taken place.” Despite the Kavanagh report having been made public and selectively leaked, it seems neither Dank nor his lawyers are able to access the document or obtain a copy. Requests have been met with either no reply or an answer that there are no instructions that allow it to be handed over. This is despite loud and repeated claims of the document containing significant information concerning the alleged role played by Dank and others in the Sharks saga.Tim rides out storm

Tim Mannah says he has come through the tough times that followed reports that peptides somehow may have played a role in his brother Jon’s death. There is no concrete proof that peptides played a role in Jon dying from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’m yet to see evidence of his alleged peptide use on one occasion – let alone on an ongoing basis. What was the volume of use, the frequency and where is the medical proof that it had a negative effect? “I’m doing well now,” said Tim. ”I’ve had a great support system at Parramatta, starting with Ricky Stuart. I’ve got friends at the club and at church who have been great and the family has come through it.”

Thompson loses head

Parramatta media manager Adam Thompson has been forced to deflect claims he and former Eels skipperNathan  Cayless became involved in a heated argument after a function in Mudgee. The pair were promoting an upcoming Eels game, and were said to have had an altercation which resulted in Cayless headbutting Thompson. ”Not true at all,” said Thompson. ”I was just showing Nathan some Jiu Jitsu moves and was explaining to him how a smaller man can cope with a bigger bloke and we had a head clash. We were the only two there.”

Bombers forewarned

There has been miles of praise for Essendon and the way they have handled the entire drugs-in-sport drama. But from what this columnist understands, they had far more warning that they were going to be under the blowtorch. Those with connections to the Bombers started to be interviewed by the ACC 12 months ago. And the AFL was aware of the matter for at least six months before the first Bombers press conference. Despite being a heavy-hitting club and flush with resources and funds, the report into their practices and lack of management was at least as damning as the Kavanagh report. The NRL has been suitably supportive of its players and Dave Smith, unlike his AFL counterpart, has been happy to allow natural justice to take its course. That’s why he hasn’t been the subject of a defamation suit from sports scientist Stephen Dank, unlike Andrew Demetriou. ASADA’s main information seems to have come from the Sharks-commissioned Kavanagh report, which didn’t look into whether any substance used breached the World Anti-Doping Authority’s ”S2” or ”S0” banned lists. The rest comes from Trent Elkin, club emails and information passed on by the ACC that can’t be used as evidence. Dank met the ACC for three days and was told he had nothing to worry about. Charges and convictions under WADA S2 and S0 are very rare. Globally in the last three years there have been a couple of cases – and none challenged in court.

Chooks hot for yoga

Sonny Bill Williams, Mitchell Pearce and Shaun Kenny-Dowall are the hipsters in the Roosters side even though they don’t all live in Bondi. SKD and Pearce are regulars at Bikram yoga and have brought SBW into the fold. They are also eating organic when they can. “It’s about putting the right fuel in your body and organic is as good as it gets,” Kenny-Dowall said. As for yoga in a room heated to 40 degrees, “It’s become a little ritual we do. It’s a great way to stretch the body and get the soreness out and it gets you pretty ripped. More than anything, it tests you mentally – being in that room for 90 minutes makes you tough.”

Campo in the fray

David Campese is back to make amends for losing to the Lions all those years ago – he’s flying home from South Africa to play for the Classic Wallabies against the British & Irish Rugby Legends at North Sydney Oval on July 4. He is sure to cop plenty.

Robbo a bargain buy

The inflated salaries that coaches are lapping up can be traced back to the Dragons’ poaching of Wayne Bennett and it continued when Bennett left to join the Knights and Todd Greenberg snared Des Hasler at the Dogs. The Roosters went the other way and signed a coach for $250,000 – and Trent Robinson is proving he is a career coach in the making. The Roosters players rave about him and they also talk about the systems he has in place. Their creed is to be a “second-half” team and a team that emphasise defence over anything else.Diamonds take forever

Paul Gallen is a slow mover when it comes to his life away from football. It wasn’t until after the Sharks and NSW captain had a couple of kids with his long-time partner Anne that they tied the knot in the off-season. And it’s taken until now for him to start wearing his wedding ring. He was sporting a sparkling number from Infinity Diamonds at Cronulla’s Women in League luncheon. There is nothing behind his decision to only don the ring now – the one he designed initially through someone else wasn’t to his liking, but he is a happy man now and we are sure Anne is as well.Here’s 10 reasons why the Blues are specials…

If there has ever been a coach walking into a golden opportunity, it’s Laurie Daley with the Blues. After years of struggling, there are so many things working in Daley’s favour that point towards the last seven years of misery being wiped away. Here are some of the reasons.

1. The Blues have two home games. They have a great record at ANZ Stadium because Queensland havetrouble with the surface.

2. Last year the Blues came within one dud decision – the Justin Hodges decoy – of winning the series. It was a call that many say cost Bill Harrigan the top job. It was one of the most critical decisions in Origin history.

3. Ricky Stuart re-established pride in the Blues jersey to such an extent that Queensland can no longer claim to have a mortgage on passion. He put the Blues on their level when it comes to understanding what Origin means.

4. The Storm are struggling, so the likes of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – while still excellent players – are not at their peak.

5. Jarryd Hayne is playing his best football since his amazing 2009 season. Hayne has embraced his Eels leadership role, is more involved in attack and his defence is now where it should be.

6. Paul Gallen will revel in the time away from club dramas. He has been under huge pressure to carry the load for his Cronulla teammates.

7. NSW have genuine options at five-eighth with Todd Carney, James Maloney and John Sutton all deserving selection because they are playing very good football for their respective club sides.

8. Mitchell Pearce has ditched the Playboy bunnies for organic food and Bikram yoga. He says he has grown up and admits that he really needed to do so.

9. Star centre Michael Jennings is happy again and playing his best football in many years.

10. Daley will walk into the best-prepared, best-funded and most professional Blues side in history.

It’s time for the Blues to stop the seven-year rot.

Danny Weidler is a Channel 9 reporter

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