Rugby League

Newcastle Knights, Joseph Tapine at loggerheads of claims of contract breach

Joseph Tapine's manager is making a formal complaint to the NRL after claiming Newcastle "banished" his client from training as punishment for signing with a rival club.

Tapine ended weeks of speculation about his future when he signed a three-year deal with Canberra believed to be worth almost $1.5 million. The contract doesn't come into effect until next season.

Joseph Tapine is at odds with the Kinights after signing a contract with the Raiders.
Joseph Tapine is at odds with the Kinights after signing a contract with the Raiders. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Tapine was not part of the 25-man Knights squad chosen for Saturday's trial against the Raiders in Orange.

Tapine's manager, Jim Banaghan, claimed the Knights were holding up a release and were in "total and utter breach" of their obligations after forcing the 21-year-old was told to train alone away from the NRL squad.

"I will be putting an official complaint to the NRL regarding Newcastle's treatment of Joseph Tapine," Banaghan said.

"I've contacted [head of football] Todd Greenberg and [ARLC chairman] John Grant and asked them to intervene and to highlight to the Newcastle club that NRL contracts have obligations that go both ways. The player has the obligation to perform at his very best at all times and the club has the same obligation.

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"The club at the moment is in total breach and the ironic part of the whole thing is that the club is under the administration of the NRL and they are not policing their own rules at their own club. It is quite painful for all who are watching.

"The player received an offer from another club starting in 2017 and also an offer from the incumbent club. The other offer, as [Newcastle] coach Nathan Brown said, was too good to refuse and [he] congratulated him [Tapine] on accepting it.

"Then the player was banished to go and train on his own away from the NRL squad.

"To put in common sense parlance, if the player was to walk into a coach's office and was to say 'I've had enough of you and the team and I'll now train on my own and I'll see you at game day', what would be the expected result of the club then?

"We all have to walk on the same side of the street, not whichever one suits us when we have a bit of bad luck."

Knights CEO Matt Gidley responded, saying Tapine was given a number of options in relation to training, and that it was his choice to train in the mornings with the club's performance staff.

"We asked how he would like to train, but that decision was made in consultation with Joe. We've been flexible with our options and have been fair and transparent throughout the process," he said.

Asked if an early release would be granted, Gidley said, "We are looking at a range of options for 2016 and during that time we've offered Joseph a range of flexible options regarding his training."

The Rugby League Players' Association was already on notice after Brown reportedly told Tapine he would be demoted to the NSW Cup if he didn't accept the club's contract extension. Now the situation has reached a flashpoint.

"In the common sense form, the club is in total and utter breach," Banaghan said.

"They promised they would release the player after they realised they were. They are now holding up a release - I have asked for a release this morning.

"The club has come back and said they wish to wait until after the weekend while they continue to look around for other players and Joey can continue to play and train on his own.

"For NRL CEOs and coaches to be putting a player in this position, it's unnecessary and unacceptable.

"I would endeavour to believe that a release will be granted by the Newcastle Knights as soon as the NRL administration realise what is going on at an NRL-administered club.

"Sometimes I look at how they are administered at Newcastle and it's like I'm watching a game of snakes and ladders - I don't know who is up and who is down.

"It appears to be an inexperienced response to bad news."

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