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Call for open season on Cats

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Footy Fix - biggest round of the season?

Rohan Connolly puts the tribunal behind him to look ahead to a whopper of a round in the AFL.

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GEELONG'S treatment of the Port Adelaide Football Club has been condemned by rival clubs, with West Coast chief Trevor Nisbett declaring the Cats deserved to be the target of a full-scale retribution for their blatant pursuit of Travis Boak.

''I don't care whether a club is in the firing line for finals or not,'' said Nisbett, ''it's out of the rugby league handbook and I just hope we're not going to see the game stoop to these levels.

''I know if it happened to our club we wouldn't be sitting down and accepting it. We'd be going in and making big offers to all their players. If anyone tried to poach one of our players during the season when he was contracted we'd go back and try to poach as many of theirs as possible.''

West Coast Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett (inset) has sharply criticised Geelong's courting of Travis Boak.

West Coast Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett (inset) has sharply criticised Geelong's courting of Travis Boak. Photo: Getty Images

Sydney boss Andrew Ireland told The Age that the excuse that the introduction of free agency had changed the landscape was irrelevant in the case of Boak, the reigning Port club champion.

''My concern in this case is that we're not talking about a free agent and you would hope that when free agency does come in it wouldn't become open slather,'' he said. ''We understand that there are players at our club about to become free agents who may be having talks with clubs through their managers, but we would be disappointed if it happened to a contracted player who was not a free agent.''

While Ireland and Nisbett both conceded every club approached players mid-season from time to time, Ireland added: ''You would hope that it could be done more discreetly.''

While Port Adelaide remains confident it will retain Boak, football boss Peter Rohde admitted the public nature of Chris Scott's arrival in Adelaide four days ago with his captain, Joel Selwood, and Brownlow medallist Jimmy Bartel was a distraction for his club.

Port denied a report that contract talks had begun between the 23-year-old's management and the club, but that process could begin as early as next week.

However, Geelong's behaviour - never before under the current rules has a club so openly approached a player during the season - has upset clubs across the AFL. Premiership coach Mick Malthouse questioned on 3AW on Monday night whether Geelong would have attacked a player from a powerful club in such a manner.

Geelong tried to explain the mission as one that Port had known about - a matter of some

contention, which prompted Rohde to contact the Cats football lieutenant Neil Balme two days ago.

While Port is prepared to let the matter rest, club CEO Keith Thomas stated on Monday: ''If Matthew Primus, Domenic Cassisi and Travis Boak were to role into Geelong to meet with Joel Selwood I am sure Brian Cook, his players and supporters would feel more than a little disrespected.''

Cats president Colin Carter responded: ''It was not our intention to show disrespect to anybody.''

Added Scott: ''It was not a clandestine mission. We certainly didn't advertise it. We preferred if no one knew about it.''

The increasingly familiar refrain that the AFL system must learn to live with such brazen tactics has not been supported by clubs who agreed that openly interviewing rival players during the season would damage the fabric of the game.

While AFL football boss Adrian Anderson said Geelong had no case to answer in terms of rule breaches, the league is reviewing the contentious rule 4.7 relating to poaching. Anderson has said he has no desire for the competition to become an NRL-style system.

Added Nisbett: ''If that's the way they [Geelong] want to play it then that is the way we will play it where a club does that to us. If I was Port I certainly wouldn't be dealing with Geelong where Travis Boak is concerned.

''The guy has a contract and their [Port Adelaide's] season is not over. It's just wrong.''

72 comments

  • Two comments.

    First, its an employment contract and if you think employees aren't poached every day than you are a very poor businessman.

    Second, this article is incorrect.
    "However, Geelong's behaviour - never before under the current rules has a club so openly approached a player during the season" ..... do you not remember any of the Gold Coast or GWS signatures? Do you seriously believe that players are not approached during the season that it all happens in a two week period during the off-season. Please. Stop being naive.

    Commenter
    TR
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 19, 2012, 9:07AM
    • Its certainly a new era for players and teams.

      Remember when it used to be the stars were at one club for life...little kids from multiple generations would wear the #5...then the #29...

      Now? - Not. Its all about the cash...little Gary proved that. Not his fault...when an expansion team is allowed to offer incentives that the existing teams are not.

      When I saw the fellas at the airport going to see Travis I honestly thought it looked a little icky...but these are the times in which we live. I support my coach and my team in using every avenue available to them to secure the players they need to succeed.

      That is..until the AFL pass a rule that says only expansion teams can to talk to contracted players during the season...which wouldn't surprise me.

      Commenter
      Alex
      Location
      Geelong
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 9:29AM
    • If you cannot see the difference between what GWS/GCFC were doing and this situation you are ignorant, parochial and small-minded. Geelong is attemting to top up a very good, well experienced team. GWS and Gold Coast were attempting to ESTABLISH A LIST FROM SCRATCH!!! McKenna and the Suns hierarchy didn't rock into Geelong half-way through the season either. Ablett said he didn't make up his mind until the end of the season, but of course you know different because you were there no doubt as his closest confidante.

      Commenter
      Ross
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 10:51AM
    • ...GWS did secretly sign Scully in a dodgy deal midway through the season though...

      Commenter
      Dags
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 11:34AM
    • Ross - Right so now the age and experience of your list affects whether you should approach other players? Get over it princess football is big business. I agree with TR, employees are poached or in the very least, approached on a daily basis for discussions. Clubs should stop trying to hide behind the notion that there is some sort of agreement that prevents this.

      Commenter
      Kev
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 12:29PM
  • West Coast POT? Geelong KETTLE?

    Commenter
    Ken
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    July 19, 2012, 9:08AM
    • So Ken, who have West Coast ever poached?

      Commenter
      Bunnies
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 10:48AM
    • Daniel Chick? He wanted to go home, West Coast were happy to meet and then trade for him.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 11:48AM
  • I'm sure clubs have more sophisticated recruiting policies and targets than an eye-for-an-eye-approach. Grow up Nisbett (and Eddie..) Also, how is arriving at an airport a public display?? How else do you arrive interstate for a meeting. Did the Cats hold a press conference to announce this- no. Wasn't Matt Primus the one who PUBLICLY said Travis Boak had probably played his last game for the club anyway.

    Commenter
    Terry
    Location
    Mooroopna
    Date and time
    July 19, 2012, 9:13AM
    • Three words: Gary Ablett Junior.

      Best player in the league, openly poached from Geelong mid-season by Gold Coast in 2010. Arguably ruined any chance of success that year, and created endless distraction and heart ache for Cats fans.

      Commenter
      Patrick Bateman
      Date and time
      July 19, 2012, 9:21AM

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