Titans count cost of Proctor drugs scandal
The Titans are already counting the financial cost of Kevin Proctor's drugs scandal with a potential sponsor putting a halt on negotiations as club CEO Graham Annesley moves to assure others that there is not a drug culture within the club.
Finally free of the negative connotations that engulfed the club in 2015 when five players were stood down for a month due to allegations around cocaine possession, the Titans handed down their punishment to Proctor on Wednesday after he was alleged to have been in possession of illicit drugs whilst in Canberra with the New Zealand national team last weekend.
Proctor has been suspended for four matches, fined $20,000 and will undertake 50 hours of community service in alcohol and drug prevention along with losing his status as co-captain and his actions last weekend have already had an impact on the club.
NRL.com understands that a potential sponsor who has reportedly withdrawn their support from the Sharks and Roosters due to the drug scandals of last weekend has now also gone cold on aligning with the Titans.
As he stressed that there was not a drug culture within the club, Annesley conceded that the club has a past it is still in some ways trying to recover from and that Proctor's punishment is reflective of that recent history.
"Every time something like this happens it has negative impacts. It's very hard to quantify what type of impacts it may have," Annesley said on Wednesday.
"This club has got some history that had to be taken into consideration and there needs to be a general deterrent as well.
"It's not acceptable in this club for players to dabble in any of these illegal substances and we want to send that message loud and clear.
"There is no culture of drugs in this club, I have absolutely no doubt about that.
"Our club doctor is across all of these issues, she has absolutely no doubt that there is no drug culture in this club so any talk of that I would like to dismiss out of hand.
"This was a poor choice very early in the morning when Kevin wasn't on our watch and he's now paying the price for it and the club pays a price for it. His teammates pay a price for it.
"He's very aware that he's let his teammates down and it's not good for the club. We're trying to qualify for finals, we've got some important games coming up and Kevin's not going to be there for four of them.
"An easy decision for the club would have been to maybe hand down a larger fine and have him on the field but we're not going to walk away from the tough decisions when they have to be made.
"Only time will tell how much damage these sorts of things generate but I hope that people will see this as a one-off incident."
Despite the severity of the situation and the reputational damage Proctor's actions have had on not only himself but the club and the game as a whole, Annesley said he did have some level of sympathy for the 28-year-old as he fronted the Titans board on Wednesday morning before addressing the playing group.
"He is still very upset about this whole thing. His nature is not to be involved in this sort of stuff," Annesley said.
"He's had a very long and distinguished career in the game, he's played at the highest level, he's represented his country and he's never gotten into trouble before. So you have to have some sympathy for him as an individual.
"Put the football aside, as an individual he knows that he has let himself down and he's very sorry and regretful.
"I wouldn't like to be the next player that gets caught but I'd much prefer to think that we won't have any further instances.
"I've got no doubt that we've got a great bunch of players here, they all do the right thing most of the time and this was a moment where Kevin through losing control of normal decision making as a result of excessive alcohol consumption resulted in a very bad outcome for him.
"He regrets that sincerely and I've got no doubt that he's absolutely sincere in that regret."