Phil Gould admits he does not understand why Panthers centre Brent Naden allegedly played in the grand final with cocaine in his system.
However, he did reveal that from his time in Naden’s life he has come to know the 24-year old’s struggles with mental health and is adamant there is “nothing malicious” about his actions.
Naden was provisionally suspended on Tuesday after he returned a positive-A-sample for metabolites of cocaine.
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It came after a test following Penrith’s 26-20 loss to Melbourne in the decider.
Gould said he wanted to play a role in helping Naden get in the right headspace given what he has previously been through.
“I hope to speak to him in the next couple of weeks just to reassure him that these things happen and there’s no reason why he can’t bounce back,” Gould told Nine News.
“He does suffer from anxiety, nerves and feeling as though he belongs in the game and that team.
“I can imagine him having periods of downtime and depression and dealing with it – I guess around that time, with the pressure of finals football.”
It has been quite the eventful year for Naden and with the latest development, Gould worries about the potential impact it could have on his mental health.
“His first finals campaign, conjecture as to whether or not he would be in or out of the team. These are the sort of things that could play heavily on his mind,” he said.
Naden is facing a potential two-year ban but it could be reduced to one to three months.
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That is if he can prove the drug was not taken for performance-enhancing purposes according to reports.
Gould does not believe Naden would have done anything illegal to gain a competitive advantage.
“There’s nothing malicious about Brent,” he said.
“There is nothing here to me that would ever suggest he was doing it in a performance-enhancing manner.
“This would be more dealing with stress.”
While empathetic with Naden’s situation, Gould did still admit he does not fully understand why he would allegedly use cocaine before the grand final.
“I’m trying to work out how that might’ve come to play,” he said.
“I haven’t heard of this for many decades of players playing with this in their system.”