Dallaglio issues Stevens warning

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Former England captain Lawrence Dallaglio has praised Matt Stevens for confessing to his drug problems - and warned the disgraced prop he will now find out "who his friends really are".

Stevens was removed from the England squad on Tuesday after testing positive for a recreational drug. The Bath prop, who confessed to having developed a substance problem, faces a potential two-year ban.

And Dallaglio - who resigned as England captain in 1999 after newspaper allegations that he dealt and took drugs before clearing his name - has offered his support to his former international team-mate.

"My initial feeling was to keep out of the matter, not wanting to rake up the past," Dallaglio told The Sun.

"But I did telephone Matt and leave a message of support. We've been England team-mates and club opponents, and he's facing a tough battle. I am conscious of the fact that Matt still has a hearing to face and, above all, do not want to say anything that might prejudice that.

"But I admire the guy for being honest, standing in front of the whole game and saying he has a problem and welcomes help.

"The most important thing, no matter what the hearing's verdict, is Matt knows he's got support in rugby as he battles to get his life back to where he wants it, back doing what he does best.

"These are the sort of tough times when a guy discovers who his friends really are."

Another former team-mate, Austin Healey, is relieved that the failed test was for recreational drugs rather than a performance-enhancing substance.

"Matt has made a huge error and one he will have to live with," Healey said in the Daily Mirror.

"The only consolation to the sport right now is that we're not talking about taking a performance-enhancing substance.

"Use them and you're cheating everyone you play against. At least with this, unacceptable though it is, Matt has not cheated anyone else. He's only let himself down.

"I am so surprised with what he's done. He always struck me as a really down-to-earth sort of character who loved his rugby. A good laugh, never one to really take himself or life too seriously."