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Ricky Stuart defends conditioning coach
Ian McCullough
11:23 AEST Fri Mar 8 2013

Ricky Stuart has thrown his support behind under-fire conditioning coach Trent Elkin.

Elkin has been caught up in the drugs scandal that has engulfed Cronulla, who he worked for before switching to Parramatta when Stuart took over from Stephen Kearney as Eels coach this season.

Up to 14 players are believed to be facing action from the Australian Sport Anti Doping Authority, and have been offered six-month bans if they plead guilty to using prohibited drugs during the 2011 season.

However, Stuart, who coached the Sharks until 2009, said he has no doubt anything untoward would have taken place under Elkin.

And the former State of Origin coach said he had great sympathy for the players at his former club as well as coach Shane Flanagan, who was once his right-hand man.

"I've had about seven or eight years working with Shane Flanagan. Four or five with Trent Elkin and a lot of years with a number of the players concerned," Stuart said.

"I feel very sorry for them, they are all good people."

"I know Shane and Trent would not condone anything that is illegal for those players.

"Those players are going through a tough time at the moment and I hope we can clear this all up as quickly as possible."

Elkin was also employed by Stuart when he was coaching NSW and is highly-rated by the former Kangaroos boss in addition to being a close friend.

"Trent is a mate of mine and I don't want anyone to question his integrity," he said.

"I am a rugby league tragic and I am feeling for the game at the moment.

"It's something we don't want to keep talking about as we have a great product."