Cody Walker of the Rabbitohs is tackled by Tim Simona, (left), and Chris Lawrence of the Tigers during the round 14 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Friday, June 10, 2016. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)
Chris Lawrence has become the first Wests Tigers player to speak about the fall of Tim Simona, saying he wished his former teammate had turned to the playing group for help.
The Tigers vice-captain admitted he was disappointed to learn Simona had placed numerous bets against his own team, but was more concerned about his lack of help.
Lawrence played alongside Simona for his entire career.
"The whole situation's disappointing. As a player, you don't want to see any player in your side gambling on football, particularly backing against you," Lawrence said on Wednesday.
"(But) the fact that none of us knew what was going on so we couldn't help him is the most disappointing part. I know as a club and players, we feel we definitely could've helped the situation if we'd known."
Prop Tim Grant echoed Lawrence's sentiments.
"It's disappointing, but for me the most disappointing thing is that he probably wasn't able to speak to us about it," he said.
'I'm not sure the battles he was dealing with, but it would've been good if he spoke to us about it. He's got a long road ahead of him. For me, it's just worrying about his welfare not as a footy player or anything other than just a human."
The Simona revelations included a confession to illicit-drug use with a number of teammates, and comes on the back of Kyle Lovett pleading guilty to drug possession last year.
But Lawrence denied he had knowledge of teammates using drugs.
"I've been here a long time and never seen anything like that. Obviously Timmy's got mixed up with the wrong crowd and once he's left here, he's hanging out with the wrong people," he said.
NRL stalwart Paul Gallen on Tuesday floated the idea of an immediate two-year ban for players found guilty of using illicit drugs instead of the NRL's current three-strike policy.
However Lawrence, who also said he would have to consider whether he could play alongside Simona in the future, believed players deserved at least one chance.
He liked the idea of being named after the initial positive test.
"I don't think one strike and then you're out of the game for illicit drugs is the way to go because you get young players coming through the game," Lawrence said.
"They might make one bad mistake and they're not trying to cheat the game.
"It's not a conceived effort to try and cheat. It might just be one bad mistake and that might be enough to turn their life around, by the naming and shaming."
© AAP 2017