WELLINGTON (AFP) - A group of Auckland-based rugby league players has been stood down from international duties for abusing prescription drugs during a night out, reports said Monday.
Six players were dropped from the Auckland Warriors, who play in the Australian National Rugby League, last week and subsequently barred from this weekend's international matches over their conduct.
The New Zealand Herald reported that five of them had admitted taking a cocktail of sleeping pills and energy drinks.
It said the players who made admissions were New Zealanders Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson, along with Samoa representative Sam Lisone and Tonga's Albert Vete.
Another Tongan player, Konrad Hurrell, reportedly tagged along as the group's driver.
New Zealand national coach Stephen Kearney said he decided to leave the three Kiwis out of Friday's Test against Australia after consultation with the Warriors.
"It is important that Test match football is the pinnacle of our game... if there are issues at club level... we will make the appropriate decisions accordingly," he said."
The mix of sleeping pills and energy drinks reportedly achieves an amphetamine-like high without breaching doping rules.