Paul Gallen and Mark Carroll have engaged in a nasty slanging match over Bronson Xerri’s positive drug test.
Carroll blasted Gallen on live radio on Tuesday after the former Cronulla Sharks captain defended Xerri.
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The rising Sharks star has been provisionally suspended by the NRL under the code's anti-doping laws for returning a positive sample for a range of banned substances from a test in November.
It’s understood it could take three weeks to have his ‘B’ sample analysed, and if positive, he is facing a four-year ban from all World Anti-Doping Agency compliant sports.
However Gallen has defended his former teammate and says he deserves a second chance.
“I have no doubt that he can come out of this. I wouldn’t for a second leave him behind or forget about him. I don’t think Cronulla should either,” Gallen wrote for Wide World of Sports.
“It may be proven that he has done the wrong thing and in that case, he’ll pay the price.
“But there should be measures in place to support his wellbeing and give him a chance to come back to the game.”
But those comments didn’t sit well with former rugby league hardman Carroll, who said Xerri should be banned from the NRL for life.
“I can’t believe this kid did this and now Gallen wants to back him and say it was OK,” Carroll said on 2GB Radio.
“Are you cracking jokes? Mate you don’t take drugs. If you take drugs, you don’t play our game.
“Simple as that. Gal got slapped on the wrist for what he did, he got away with it. This kid he’s going to have to pay the penalty.”
Paul Gallen labels Mark Carroll a ‘coward’
Carroll was referring to the Sharks’ 2011 peptide scandal in which Gallen and a number of teammates copped suspensions for unwittingly taking banned substances.
Gallen fired back at Carroll later on Tuesday, calling him a “big, tough guy with a big mouth”.
“We all know it was a club-run program where players were duped and doped,” Gallen said on 2GB.
“I was one of 16 players to have pleaded guilty and I bet you that goose couldn’t name another two or three players.
“I was with Mark Carroll probably three or four months ago, not even, doing a luncheon with him and he’s shaking my hand and best mates to my face … Nice as pie. Now he wants to get on radio and say things like that.
“If you don’t like someone and you think someone’s done the wrong, don’t shake their hand and be nice to them.
“Be a man and say you’ve done the wrong thing I don’t like you. I just think he’s a two-faced coward.”
But it didn’t end there, with Carroll telling Fox Sports Gallen is the coward.
“It’s always got under my grill that Gal only missed a few games and a Kangaroo tour,” Carroll said.
“He was supposed to be the leader at Cronulla. That’s not leadership, that’s throwing young blokes under the bus.
“That’s the real definition of a coward.”