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Jersey pledge? When is a contract, a contract?

Date

Steve Mascord

DISCORD

Should clubs be allowed to pursue on-contract players? Manly captain Jamie Lyon was subjected to a big offer from the Gold Coast Titans to leave the Sea Eagles immediately.

Should clubs be allowed to pursue on-contract players? Manly captain Jamie Lyon was subjected to a big offer from the Gold Coast Titans to leave the Sea Eagles immediately. Photo: Brendan Esposito

NORMALLY in Discord, we throw up some strident opinion or another and offer you the opportunity to agree or disagree.

But this week, I'm going to give you a topic rather than an opinion and simply open the floor to you.

Michael Jennings swapping clubs two months before the start of the season. Jamie Lyon – the captain of Manly – being approached to quit the club immediately.

Do you care?

I remember, in the primeval past, writing stories about clubs accusing others of “inducing players to breach their contracts”. But those stories don't seem to be written anymore.

It seems to be the modus operandi of clubs that players will be unhappy at rival joints and even though they are under contract, we can actually have them now.

And their current club will pay them to play for us! I never quite got my head around that…..

Discord never cared if a star signed with a rival club for next season and was paraded at a mid-season media conference in that club's colours. But you did – and the practice was unofficially outlawed.

But you don't seem to care about a player starting pre-season training – or even a season – with one club and finishing it with another. You don't seem to mind the fact a contract is worth nada these days.

Or maybe you do. Tell me at the bottom of this column.

***

BY now you've read a number of tributes to Jon Mannah. I probably had less to do with him than many other reporters.

But when I heard of his passing, I had to ask myself the questions: does death teach us more about the nature and value of life, or is it just something we say to make ourselves feel better?

Certainly, Jon's friends and family are beyond such esoteric considerations right now – and understandably so.

But I think many people will look at Jon Mannah's bravery and make better choices in their lives as a result. The realisation that it can all end at any time is something that dawns on most of us later in life and hopefully encourages us to make better use of the time we have.

At 23, Jon Mannah shouldn't have had to worry about that.

***

IT'S interesting that Wigan coach Shaun Wane has admitted fullback Sam Tomkins will not be spending his entire career with the club.

Wane is already trialling other fullbacks in the pre-season, even though England's best player will be at DW Stadium at least until the end of next year.

It's hard to see Tomkins joining another Super League club. The leaves the NRL at rugby union.

Let's hope it's the NRL.

***

THANKS for all the comments last week. Long Xuyen wanted to bring replacements down to three with no-one who comes off being allowed back on the field. It sounds a bit radical but even the great Darren Lockyer believes we may one day have to have fewer than 13 players on the field.

Iambunney spoke about the Golden Boot and players sticking with a minor nation. Michael Jennings is a Tongan international, not Samoan. I think that now the RLIF has a player of the year award, the Golden Boot should be even more determined to underline its point of difference – that it goes to the best player in the world.

Stojo01 you seem to know a lot more about punting than me with your comments on various markets in recent years. The way you walked the line without accusing anyone of anything specific indicates you know a fair bit about defamation law too!

Bad Robot says the trial rule regarding the attacking team having an extra player at scrums is an indictment against the creativity of current players. I think it's more an indictment against the imagination used from scrums, not overall.

Quigeybow further explained his proposal to discourage players feigning injury. Check out last week's column. It seems a fair idea to me. What do you all think?

Supersquirrel sums up an ethical conflict. We abhor the nanny state but we also abhor gambling's increasing hold on rugby league. Which abhorrence trumps which?

Here's the forum 

16 comments so far

  • Yes - RL is a business, the players it's staff, the clubs it's companies. and just like in business staff are head hunted every day to move companies.

    if they receive a better offer why wouldn't they move. Who here could say they wouldn't change employers for more money? It happens.

    Players have a limited time span in which to set themselves and their families up before age or injury takes it's toll. It happens everywhere else why should RL be different.

    Commenter
    crazymorton
    Date and time
    January 19, 2013, 10:31AM
    • True, crazymorton, but why should we care? The NRL publicity machine expects us all to get out there and barrack for our team, but 'our team' is made up of people who have no sense of club loyalty beyond their hip pockets. So my team of mercenaries can beat your team of mercenaries but your team may look just like my team next year. So, again, why on earth should I be bothered? I'll go and read a good book instead.

      Commenter
      JF
      Date and time
      January 19, 2013, 12:10PM
  • Personally, I hate the line "a contract is worth nothing these days".

    As far as I'm concerned, a contract is a legal document that serves to protect the interests of the relevent parties. As soon as both parties agree that enforcing the terms of the contract is not in their best interests, the contract is no longer necessary.

    Why then, at this point, do fans and certain members of the media feel the need to criticise the decision made by player & club? I suppose the alternative is to force a player to stay at a club he doesn't want to play for?

    Commenter
    Benjamin
    Location
    Hardy
    Date and time
    January 19, 2013, 12:32PM
    • The reason for certain fans and media personalities to criticize is the simple fact that playing professional sport is not like any other job. The stands are not packed when I turn up for work in the morning. With no fans there is no professional. That is why we complain and that is why the more the opinions of the fans are ignored by players and management the worse position they put themselves in. Why is it that an ironman makes less money than a footy player? It isn't about lifespan or who is fitter, it is about the size of the audience.

      Commenter
      Just a thought
      Date and time
      January 24, 2013, 8:08AM
  • Sure the NRL clubs are businesses, however, those businesses survive on the goodwill of the fans that support them and that support comes from a a sense of loyalty. If you take away the link between a player and their team then you run the very real risk of alienating the fan. Bring back the sanctity of the contract.

    Commenter
    Titanic
    Location
    Nanjing
    Date and time
    January 19, 2013, 12:38PM
    • Steve, I think all fans have to get used to it. There is too much money in the game for loyalty to prosper. If it's not player managers shopping their players around for more money it's clubs shopping players around to reduce salary cap pressure.

      Commenter
      longlunch
      Date and time
      January 19, 2013, 1:30PM
      • Hmmm.... Penrith have been trying to offload Jennings for a while, trying to free up cash for their exorbitant bid for a 30 +'year old halfback. That's as much as an Employer choice as a players. Do clubs have the right to shop around their contracted players like in the above case ?

        Should we consider a transfer market like in the round ball game ?...... Give each club an extra $500k under the cap to use say between the last two origin games. It gives clubs a chance to make up for injuries etc and a chance to bring up some NSWQLD cup players or perhaps out of favour first graders.

        Beats pillaging the under 20s comp where each year the gap between the men and boys grows wider.
        .

        Commenter
        Chief
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        January 19, 2013, 2:14PM
        • As the game becomes more professional, there is less of the old-school loyalty in jerseys and clubs, which is to be understanded and respected. However, I feel as though there should be a more structured transfer system. Dare I say it, RL could learn a lot from the transfer windows enforced by football (soccer). Players, teams and fans know when movements can be made, and minimise potentially harmful speculation and negative emotion during a season.

          However, structured transfer windows will never eradicate 'tapping up', or indeed end big money approaches to contracted players. To a degree, however, these approaches should not be stopped. It opens avenues for players to get the best deals for themselves and their families.

          Commenter
          Div
          Location
          Newcastle
          Date and time
          January 19, 2013, 2:42PM
          • Div, I was writing the very same thing when my useless laptop overheated and shut down! With transfer windows, everyone knows where they are. Players may be approached without recrimination. Teams can be strengthened mid-season. The rule applies to everyone. Surely its worth a go!

            Commenter
            Phil
            Date and time
            January 19, 2013, 6:01PM
          • Correct, see the original outstanding post about this above Div's

            Commenter
            Chief
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            January 20, 2013, 10:03AM

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        MEL vs NEW 00:00AAMI
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        CBY vs WAR 00:00ANZ
        NQL vs GCT 00:001300 Smiles Stadium
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