NRL 2021: Penrith Panthers centre Brent Naden dropped to reserve grade for cocaine use

Penrith Panthers centre Brent Naden has been dropped to reserve grade, after testing positive for cocaine following last year's Grand Final loss to Melbourne Storm.

The western Sydney club has confirmed that coach Ivan Cleary won't select Naden for the first-grade side for the opening four rounds of the competition, a decision made by the coaching staff and senior players.

The sanction comes on top of the NRL's official $20,000 suspended fine.

After being overlooked for selection in the Panthers preliminary final against South Sydney Rabbitohs, Naden apparently believed he also wouldn't be picked to play in the Grand Final.

But he ended up playing 32 minutes against the Storm, before immediately checking himself into a drug and rehabilitation facility for drug and alcohol issues.

The 25-year-old, who was also fined $5000 by the NRL earlier this year for breaching the biosecurity guidelines on the eve of the Grand Final, can still train with the squad and will be available for selection in the club's trial match against Parramatta Eels next weekend.

Naden faces a battle to work his way back to first-grade selection, with the off-season signings of Paul Momirovski and Robert Jennings adding further competition in the midfield.

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