Brown responds to Mullen comments

DISMISS: Newcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown. Picture: Jonathan CarrollNewcastle Knights coach Nathan Brown has refuted claims the NRL club has disowned Jarrod Mullen following a drugs ban and reckons theveteran playmaker would have helped improve results for the last-placed team in 2017.

At training on Tuesday Brown responded to an interview Mullen’s mother, Leeann, did with 1233 ABC Newcastle that expressed concerns about a lack of support for her 30-year-old son and potential double standards after the Knights recently signedShaun Kenny-Dowall.

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“We’renot making these decisions,” Brown said.

“If Shaun Kenny-Dowall wasn’tallowed to play Iwouldn’t have signed Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

“And I can tell you 100 per centI’ve saidafter many a game this year I’msure we would have won if Jarrod Mullenplayed. I wish Jarrod Mullen was here and fit but unfortunately he’s not.

“Unfortunately Jarrod’s retired now because of a situation the club didn’t create. Jarrod made a mistake, which is unfortunate and the club’s there to support him.

“If you spoke to Jarrod I think he wouldfeel our welfare department has supported him well and I’m sure behind the scenesGids [Knights chief executive officer Matt Gidley] has supported him very well as well.”

Mullen was handed a four-year punishment by the NRL drugs tribunalon May 2after theAustralianSports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) recorded a positive test to a banned steroid in November.

Kenny-Dowall, who joined the Knights after being released by the Roostersjust before the mid-season transfer deadline of June 30, pleaded guilty in court last month to possessing cocaine but escaped conviction.

The new recruit is expected to recover from a hamstring injury and debut for the Knightsagainst his former club in Sydney next Friday.

Mullen can no longer attend training based on ASADA regulations but Brown denied telling players not to mix with the former NSW representative.

“That’s very incorrect,” Brown said.

“We all went for lunch at his restaurant about threeor fourweeks after it happened and Jarrod was there.

“Where wecan’t associate with Jarrod is training and that’s because of ASADAnot because of the Knights or Nathan Brownor anyone else. And that’s because of something Jarrod did,not something the Knights did.”

The Knights, who lost their 14thgame of the season on Sunday, are favourites to collect a third straight wooden spoon this year.

Brown said he expected to name an unchanged squad for Saturday’s clash with Brisbane at home including under-fire five-eighth Brock Lamb and injured skipper Sione Mata’utia (fractured finger).