Eels coach Brad Arthur has lauded George Jennings after the winger shrugged off the shock of brother Michael’s drug positive to score two tries in a final.
George Jennings barely put a foot wrong as Parramatta lost 38-24 against South Sydney on Saturday night.
Having already been called up due to Maika Sivo’s season-ending knee injury, George Jennings had a lengthy chat with Arthur ahead of the game when Michael Jennings was stood down due to positive tests for banned substances Ligandrol and Ibutamoren.
While Michael Jennings has vowed to clear his name and denied wrongdoing, George Jennings shook off the controversy and did his job admirably. He ran for 140m on top of his two tries, in just his eighth game of the season and only his second for Parramatta; having been a loan player for the Warriors.
“He done a really good job. He managed to brush aside some personal matters and get on with the job for his teammates,” Arthur said.
“I called all the boys, every single player this morning and their attitude was great, and obviously it was a bit more of a deep conversation with George. But then when he got here, he shrugged and was ready to go.”
Arthur spoke briefly about Michael Jennings but could shed no light on the matter. Aged 32, the star centre’s career would likely be over if he copped a ban, with his B sample still to be tested.
“I spoke to Michael earlier today. It wasn’t long but it was about making sure that he’s got the support he needs around him with his family,” Arthur said.
“I can’t comment because I don’t know all the facts. The only thing I was concerned about was making sure Michael’s welfare [was taken care of]. He’s got a young family, and making sure they’ve got the support they need.”
NRL Presser: Eels v Rabbitohs – Semi-Finals – Brad Arthur
Michael Jennings, a former Test and Origin player, has notched 298 NRL games during a career that has spanned three clubs: the Penrith Panthers, Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels.
He has been with the Eels since 2016, having been a 2013 premiership player for the Roosters.
Michael Jennings had his mobile phone and computer seized by Sports Integrity Australia on Saturday morning. He was hit with a provisional suspension under the NRL’s anti-doping policy.
Ligandrol is the same substance that swimmer Shayna Jack and James Segeyaro tested positive for. It carries a mandatory four-year ban if Michael Jennings cannot prove that it inadvertently got into his system.
The Eels centre was tested on September 21, with the results becoming available on October 9; hence the timing of his standing-down, which raised eyebrows given that it came on game day for the Eels in a sudden-death match.