GARETH Hock believes many current players haven’t learned from his mistake - and are risking their careers by taking drugs.
In his explosive autobiography, published this week, the 32-year-old reveals he spent hundreds of pounds fuelling his cocaine habit during his Wigan days before his two-year ban.
And in an exclusive excerpt released for the Observer, the Leigh forward says it is “common” for stars to risk their careers for the “buzz” of taking banned substances.
“There will always be players who do what I did – taking drugs and playing,” he said.
“It is still going on today. It’s common and it will continue, such is society.
“The more you do it and the longer this goes on without you getting caught, then the bigger the buzz it gives you.
I became reliant on them and was soon hooked. In hindsight I wouldn’t do drugs again, but I was young, reckless and crazy and needed my fixGareth Hock on drug use
“Players will chance it until they are caught – which is exactly what happened to me.”
Hock was slapped with a mandatory two-year suspension in 2009 while with the Warriors after testing positive for benzoylecgonine, the main metabolite in cocaine.
“I only ever did drugs at weekends, after games and when we went up town,” he said. “I would spend hundreds of pounds getting my hands on top brand cocaine. I had to have it.
“My form for Wigan was good but we were partying hard and I just thought: “**** it; give me some of that cocaine”. ‘It was being passed around like toffee. What a ****head. But I’ve always been easily led and willpower has never been a strength. What I did was utter madness.”
Hock says he first took drugs when he was a 16-year-old tearaway.
“The problem starts when you are young. I feel your background can greatly influence the need to do it,” he said.
“It did with me because I was familiar with this vice at an early age and soon fell into the trap.
“It took hold and there was no escape.
“Along with a driving ban, 16 was also the age when I first got into drugs. It all started with an ecstasy tablet given to me by a mate on a Friday night out in Wigan.
“I needed more and got more – I became reliant on them and was soon hooked. In hindsight I wouldn’t do drugs again, but I was young, reckless and crazy and needed my fix.”
Hock’s off-field scrapes as a teenager didn’t derail his promising career.
A former England academy international, he broke into a star-studded Wigan side in 2003.
“I will always have the utmost respect for Maurice Lindsay, the former Wigan chairman, they used to call him Mr Wigan,” he said.
“He talked me up and claimed I had the talent to be really big in the game – one of the best. If only, eh?
“I went on to gain international honours at academy level and Warrington too had watched me as a schoolboy.
“When you were raised on the tough streets of Norley Hall, though, you only ever want to play for one club and you bleed cherry blood.
“Ged Byrne gave me my chance in the juniors and I didn’t let anyone down. Kiwi Frank Endacott brought me onto the fringes of the first team and I was on my way, but it was an Aussie, Stuart Raper, who gave me my debut in 2003.
“It came against Doncaster in that year’s Challenge Cup, when I scored a couple of tries from the bench.
“Maurice always saw me as a rough diamond. He knew what I could do on the field and he has always looked out for me.”
Hock’s combination of talent and aggression earned him Great Britain honours in 2006 and his blockbusting, combative style made him one of Super League’s biggest stars - until his suspension in 2009.
“When I got my drugs ban, it was Maurice who organised for the News of the World to print my warts and all story on what I had done,” added Hock.
“They pushed me to the limit to lift the lid on other big name stars who were also drug users and top players. I didn’t bite and just pocketed the five-figure fee.”
After a season on loan at Widnes, Hock - along with Lee Mossop - signed with NRL side Parramatta, before a late U-turn saw him move to Salford...
By 2012 the clock was ticking at Wigan, even though I was on a big contract. I know Waney, who was fully in charge by then, wanted me to stay, but off-field issues were piling up and there was a feeling in the air that I ought to pack my bags.
The result was that I met officials from Parramatta Eels at Wrightington Country Club and signed a two-year deal with an option for a third. A stint in the NRL was beckoning.
People had always said that my aggressive game would be ideally suited to that competition.
I was promised a house on the outskirts of Sydney, a car and various other perks. A big transfer fee was negotiated with Wigan and I was ready for off, but what I didn’t know was that my partner, Danielle was pregnant with our daughter, Heidi.
The baby was due at Christmas, just when I should have been on my way to the airport.
No way could I go, so I rang the Parramatta coach, Ricky Stuart, to tell him I had changed my mind – he was ****ing fuming. Stuart then got on to Adrian Morley, his mate from his time together at the Sydney Roosters, begging Moz to convince me to still go.
HOCK moved to Championship outfit Leigh Centurions in mid-season...
Well, here we are at the close of 2015 and Leigh failed in its bid to get back into Super League. Our Middle 8 campaign was a disaster; it all went badly wrong, **** knows why. Talk about being ****ed off – that’s an understatement.
It just didn’t happen and we were hurting at the end of it.
To be really successful in this game and to win the big matches when it really matters, you need a strong winning desire throughout the team. I can honestly say that, in my view, not everyone had that in their make-up.
I was bitterly disappointed with my own performances. I could have done so much better. I really did feel we were more than good enough to go all the way because we had been strong in the regular season.
Yet we ended up winning just one game in our last seven. That was nowhere near good enough, unacceptable in fact, and hopefully lessons have been learned. But we will go again and be better equipped.
I wanted to do it for Derek Beaumont, who has been magnificently supportive of me and my family since we arrived.
I had always had and enjoyed a belting working relationship with Maurice Lindsay at Wigan and it’s the same with Derek. They understand me and Derek immediately made me feel wanted and part of Leigh. If anyone can do whatever it takes to get us up it is Derek.
He is a fan and knows the game. He cares enormously for his players and everyone else associated with the club – like Maurice (Lindsay) he’s strong, determined and a leader.
• ‘Hock – The Real Me’ is published this Friday, November 27 by Scratching Shed Publishing, priced at £9.99. It is available from scratchingshedpublishing.com, all good bookshops either in stock or to order, and Amazon.
It will be launched at the DW Stadium next Tuesday, December 1 as part of Wigan Riversiders Supporters night, with a book signing from 7pm and guests from 8pm.