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Opinion

NRL contract farce needs urgent fixing

17 Nov 20, 5:29PM 0 Comments

Written by Stuart McLennan

Photo by Getty Images

The latest ‘player wants out of his contract’ media headline is another knife in the back to the Wests Tigers club and its long suffering fans.

There have been plenty of those sharp objects come the way of the people that worship at the black, white and orange altar. It has become part of life for Wests Tiger fans.

The club recently missed out on signing Josh Addo-Carr after the Melbourne Storm deemed that he wasn’t going to be released a year early while upping his salary for 2021.

No sooner was that put to bed than Wests Tigers forward Josh Aloiai demanded an immediate release to join Manly in 2021, vowing to “never wear the jersey again.” Similar calls from Ryan Matterson and Mitch Moses are still fresh in the minds of Tigers supporters.

Aloiai who has been one of the club’s best performers over the last two years was apparently in healthy discussions before negotiations stalled and the latest bombshell was dropped on the club.

It remains to be seen whether the Wests Tigers take the same hard-line that Melbourne Storm – considered the benchmark for recruitment and retention – are renowned for. History suggests the Tigers have been a ‘soft touch’ when it comes to releasing players.

Wests Tigers Chair Lee Hagipantelis flagged a tougher approach when speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“In my view he has a contract with the Wests Tigers which he will fulfil in 2021 unless I can leverage a commercial advantage for the club.

“The days of players, or others, thinking that they can use the Wests Tigers as a stepping stone are over.”

Hagipantelis, Principal at Brydens Lawyers, is clearly fed up with NRL contracts being almost worthless agreements that are not always fulfilled. There are plenty of rugby league fans that feel the same way.

Speaking with Jimmy Smith on SEN the lawyer suggested that if a player seeks and is granted a release from their contract on ‘compassionate’ grounds then they shouldn’t receive a commercial advantage. That is the player should not receive any more money at his new club than he did at his former organisation.

The Wests Tigers Chair will take his suggestion to the NRL decision makers.

If a player signs a contract then they should honour it unless there are genuine reasons to move on. A more attractive financial package offer would not be one of those ‘genuine reasons.’

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