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Boycott threat unlikely to draw NRL into contract dispute


Laine Clark

Anthony Milford wants out of the Raiders.

Anthony Milford wants out of the Raiders. Photo: Jay Cronan

Despite an Anthony Milford boycott threat, ARL Commission chairman John Grant does not believe the NRL will have to step in and settle a contract wrangle looming for the Canberra rookie sensation.

Milford's manager has threatened his charge will sit out next season if not granted a release by the Raiders on compassionate grounds.

Milford, pictured, hopes to return to his sick father in Brisbane, putting the Broncos in the box seat if he is released.

The NRL was asked to sort out a similar dispute in 2011 when Tim Moltzen signed a three-year deal with St George Illawarra despite not securing a release from Wests Tigers.

However, Grant did not believe the NRL would need to get involved in Milford's case.

''I don't think so,'' he said. ''We are always working with the clubs to help them get through what they need to get through.

''But at the end of the day they have to make the right decision.

''Player welfare has to be at the forefront of our thinking.

''(But) his contractual obligations are pretty clear. It will play out over time.''

Ex-NSW winger Blake Ferguson may join Milford out the Raiders exit if he activates an out-clause created by Canberra coach David Furner's sensational sacking.

They would join the likes of lost Raiders stars Todd Carney and Josh Dugan.

Milford and the equally unsettled Ben Barba's situation has prompted NRL chief operating officer Jim Doyle to claim transfer fees and windows will be considered for players seeking a compassionate release as part of a salary cap review.

Grant said he empathised with the Raiders but believed the Milford-Ferguson cases could have happened at any club.

''Canberra have got two specific situations that it is dealing with,'' he said. It could apply to any club that those players are at.

''There is nothing in my comments about Canberra as a footy club.''

Still, he said the onus was on the NRL club to keep their players happy.

''I am not unsympathetic to the fact clubs have to deal with things,'' he said.

''[But] we don't run the clubs. They have to run their footy club the way they see fit.

''If it doesn't work for them then it won't for their players or their stakeholders.''


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