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Dublin: 9 °C Monday 21 April, 2014

Former All Blacks coach denies steroid claims

Two New Zealand rugby players took illegal substances in the 1990s, a forthcoming book alleges.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

FORMER ALL BLACKS coach John Hart has rubbished the suggestion that international players took steroids on his watch in the 1990s.

The claims that two New Zealand rugby stars secretly bulked up with banned substances were made in a forthcoming book by Jack Ralston, head of sales and marketing with the New Zealand Rugby Union between 1997 and 1999.

Speaking to The Press yesterday, Ralston confirmed that two players had confided in him that they were taking the illegal supplements but refused to reveal the identities of the stars involved.

“It was the smaller guys who needed to put on muscle and bulk who were under pressure and for rugby to think this did not go on is silly,” Ralston said. “They have their heads buried in the soil.”

But at least two confided in me they had bowed to the pressure to bulk up and were taking them.

The NZRU has yet to comment on the allegations but Hart, who coached the All Blacks to the 1995 World Cup Final and the semi-finals in 1999, said that he would be stunned if the claims were true.

“I never saw it on my watch. It would surprise me greatly,” Hart said.

“It’s very easy to make those comments. From my knowledge, [there was] none at all.”

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