Cronulla Sharks coach John Morris says he has been "shocked and disappointed" by the ASADA drug scandal that has seen young gun Bronson Xerri slapped with a provisional suspension.
Xerri faces the possibility of a four-year ban from rugby league after testing positive to a number of banned substances.
'UNWATCHABLE': Fans divided over NRL's 'weird' fake crowd
'NO HELMETS, NO WORRIES': NRL return goes off in America
Morris defended Cronulla's culture earlier in the week, saying the club does not have a doping problem despite Xerri's positive test result.
The 19-year-old has been provisionally suspended under anti-doping laws and it's believed the NRL and Australia Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ADASA) is treating the case individually.
It comes six years after several Sharks players were slapped with one-year bans by ASADA - the result of an illegal supplements program that ran at the club in 2011.
Speaking on Friday, Morris said the Xerri controversy had left him "sick in the stomach" but admits he still hasn't been able to get in touch with his young charge to talk about it.
“Like everyone else I was very shocked and disappointed when the news came through on Tuesday,” he said on Friday.
“It was very disappointing for our club, our sponsors, members and fans to deal with this situation.
“However, our first duty of care is towards Bronson and his welfare. We will support him through this as best we can.
“It’s important that we allow the due process and natural justice in allowing the formal process to run its course.
“It’s one that we need to respect and the club will continue to monitor Bronson’s welfare.”
News of Xerri's positive sample, which was taken in November, was released to the NRL and Sharks on Tuesday just two days out from the return of the season.
It gave Cronulla mere hours to finalise a team list on Tuesday afternoon for Saturday's game against the Wests Tigers.
Morries denies club has a drugs problem
Morris said earlier in the week that while it's "unfortunate" the Sharks are dealing with another scandal around performance-enhancing drugs, he denied suggestions it pointed to a wider problem at the club.
"I'd like to think the club has moved on from what's gone on in the past," Morris told Nine News on Wednesday night.
"We certainly acknowledge that and it's very unfortunate that we've had another case, but it was nine years ago when that incident took place.
"To put that into perspective, Bronson was around 10 years old and 99 per cent of the playing group wasn't at the club.
"The club paid a huge price for that and then learned a really hard lesson, as did the NRL and Australian sport.
"We've put a lot of strict governance programs in place, I'm very comfortable with that.
"We provide a lot of education for our players, led by our club doctor. I'm really proud of the culture at our club and we've worked really hard to turn it around. We've turned it around both on and off the field.
"We won the premiership in 2016 and we've won every championship at every level since then and we've put a lot of effort into our elite pathways program, and Bronson is one of those players."
Skipper Wade Graham served an ASADA suspension in 2014 and is the only player who remains at the club from the peptides scandal.