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Ian Schubert carried a big stick and few will miss him

Date

The NRL's retiring salary cap auditor was a feared man, writes Glenn Jackson.

Resigned: NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert has announced he will step down from the role.

Resigned: NRL salary cap auditor Ian Schubert has announced he will step down from the role. Photo: Simon Alekna

It's perhaps a sign of the size of the stick Ian Schubert wielded that, even with one foot out the door, the celebrations - and there would have been some - were still muted.

For one thing, Schubert, the departing NRL salary cap auditor, will be poring over contracts into January. That stick could have some whack in it yet. But as one club chief executive said: ''You'd rather let sleeping dogs lie.''

And so continued the silence around one of the most controversial figures in the game, who has ruled the salary cap, rightly or wrongly, since the beginning of the NRL premiership in 1998.

The silence has long come from others, wary of publicly criticising or questioning him, fearing reprisals from the man who could be the difference between landing a top player and not. That was one of the reasons so many club officials were frustrated by him; that for so long he was judge, jury and executioner, with no appeal available. ''Ian Schubert interprets it the way he sees it and you can't challenge him,'' one club boss told Fairfax Media in February. ''The way he operates is that he has got sole discretion, so bad luck.''

That unwillingness to speak on the record about Schubert continued on Wednesday, after the auditor announced he would be stepping down. ''It will be good to start afresh,'' one club official said.

Schubert was a player of note with Eastern Suburbs, Western Suburbs and Manly, but his influence over the code was more significant after he finished playing.

Given the role of managing the salary cap to curb the unsustainable player payments brought about by the Super League war, he has been credited by many with evening out the competition.

But there have been many controversies: in recent years, the biggest have been his bullishness over Greg Inglis (Inglis believed the NRL did not want him in the game after he was forced out of Melbourne, had a contract with Brisbane rejected and was left in limbo for months after a ruling on third-party deals put South Sydney over the salary cap); and his failure to budge in time to allow Israel Folau, who had quit his AFL adventure, to sign with Parramatta. Folau subsequently signed - and then re-signed - with the ARU.

Through it all, Schubert made about as many public utterances as his detractors did about him. He steadfastly refused to discuss rulings with reporters. But he did speak on Wednesday, even if via a statement from the NRL.

''I've had a memorable time in the game,'' he said. ''Naturally, those times as a player are hard to beat, but the rewards of being an administrator where your contribution is not always noticed, or appreciated, is both rewarding and challenging. I have been fortunate to play alongside and against some of the greats of the game during my time as a player, and over the past 18 years to also work closely with some very passionate people who may not have played but certainly have the same passion for the game as any player.''

8 comments so far

  • What syncophatic dribble!

    Auditors do not carry the stick - that sits with the NRL Board - he only ever had to report findings of which there were relatively few found given the wholesale rorting of the salary cap.

    With Schubert's resignation the NRL has the opportunity to put a real terrier into the system, but they won't because they may actually find something without the help of a disenfranchised former player to tell them where the real books are hidden.

    Commenter
    PxD
    Location
    Up north
    Date and time
    December 19, 2013, 6:46AM
    • Agreed

      And it was never Schubert's place to speak to the media, that would have been out of place. Someone had to do the unpopular role and most clubs would be grateful of his lean(ish) attitude towards their repeated breaches.

      One particular inner city, slightly west of Anzac Parade club should be extremely grateful they were allowed to pick up the games best player at 1/3 of his market price allegedly topped up by third party deals. One Gatorade ad in 3 years does not equate to over $1m in third party value.

      Maybe the new auditor will have a closer look at that particular deal. .....but doubtful cause it would kill of their title hopes for another 43 + years. .

      Commenter
      Cheftain
      Date and time
      December 19, 2013, 9:19AM
  • Schubert will not be missed ..
    .particularly by those teams who rorted the salary cap system.....
    Crowe's Rabbits,.the Storm....the Broncos....the Cowboys....the Bulldogs....The Sharps (previously known as the Sharks)........ the Penny Panthers...and of course Manly

    Commenter
    Honest John
    Location
    The Shire
    Date and time
    December 19, 2013, 8:00AM
    • You must be a Roosters (aka Rorters) supporter.

      I've thought for a long time that the only clubs not rorting the cap are those with insufficient funds, like my club Wests Tigers.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      December 19, 2013, 9:54AM
    • No mention of the roosters? Guess we know who you follow ;)

      Commenter
      Ted
      Date and time
      December 19, 2013, 10:24AM
    • He didn't actually discover any of these rorts. In most cases, the Storm are a good example, it was a disgruntled ex-employee that blew the whistle. Schubert missed all the really big rorts. I always wondered, why bother with the role?

      Commenter
      david of Doubt
      Date and time
      December 19, 2013, 12:29PM
    • At least the Roosters declared SBW at $800,000.

      Guess how much Souths declared Inglis at .......yes less than $300,000/

      You tell me whose rorting the system.

      Commenter
      Chieftain
      Date and time
      December 19, 2013, 3:09PM
  • Wow, the age of the "Brown paper Bag" has gone....... Or has it.......? Who will take over....? This guy was renown to turning a blind eye over the years of the "Roosters Brown Paper Bag" era. I have enjoyed all of the facebook banter going around joking about this...

    It is about time, however, will the NRL step up in this area and involve someone without a previous club history without a conflict of interest.... Something tells me that there was more than meets the eye with this story....

    It's time for the NRL to step up, exploit such cover up's and to stop egg landing on their face via ex disgruntles employees whom spill the beans after they move on...

    Commenter
    Mr B
    Location
    Wollongong
    Date and time
    December 20, 2013, 4:09PM

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