Canterbury Bulldogs recruit Brent Naden reveals how he changed his life after drugs scandal at Penrith Panthers

Canterbury recruit Brent Naden has revealed how he went about changing his life after a drugs scandal threatened to derail his NRL career.

The talented back has opened up on the work he’s done with his partner after breaking from Penrith’s biosecurity bubble and using cocaine the night before the 2020 NRL grand final, which the Panthers lost to the Storm. Naden played 32 minutes off the bench in the decider.

The ill-fated night resulted in the NRL handing Naden a $5000 fine and the Panthers suspending him for the first four games of the 2021 season.

But a couple of simple changes to the 26-year-old’s life have got him back on the right path.

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“Reading a lot of books,” Naden said on 9News when asked what he’d done to transform his life.

“Me and my partner have a little system going on in the afternoons where we write down three good things and three bad things (and) talk about it.

“That really helps my mental health, and talking to someone – well I have my partner there, so that helps.”

Naden and his partner, Eden, will welcome their first child into the world in eight weeks’ time.

Naden is struggling to believe it.

“Overcome with all emotions at the moment,” he said.

“It’s getting close now … and I still pinch myself.”

Naden penned a two-year deal with Canterbury after playing 37 top-grade games with Penrith between 2019 and 2021.

He crossed from the Panthers to the Bulldogs with teammate Matt Burton, while Canterbury also lured prized recruits Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Dufty, Tevita Pangai Junior and Paul Vaughan.

“It’s a fresh start in more ways than one: not only a fresh start at a club but a fresh start in life, too,” Naden said.

“Not everyone gets a second chance, I guess, but I’m looking forward to going out there and proving a lot of people wrong.

“I let a lot of people down and I let myself down … but like I said, it’s a new year, new start for me, so I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

The Bulldogs will meet the Cowboys in Townsville in the opening round.

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