STERLO: Dotted line is bottom line


N the mad scramble that is the player market there is obviously plenty of pressure on clubs to secure key signatures in front of their rivals.

It used to be that players were paid on performance before potential, but talented youngsters are now targeted before leaving school by clubs who are terrified that they may miss the boat on the best of those coming through.

This has seemingly placed players and their management in an advantageous position when it comes to negotiations.

The by-product of that is contracts that now aren’t just an agreement between a player and club for an agreed fee, but are likely to include various clauses in the case of an event taking place.

The recent conjecture concerning Manly’s Kieran Foran and a possible move to Canterbury is the latest example.

The outstanding playmaker is in something of a tug-o-war as a result of a so-called “get-out” clause if coach Des Hasler was to leave the Sea Eagles.

With that occurring following last season’s successful campaign there is strong mail that Kieran will activate that option and follow his former mentor across town to Belmore next year.

Unfortunately it appears it is all about to get messy.

Manly are claiming that Hasler’s departure was done in a way that makes Foran’s means of “escape” null and void.

Legal action is being spoken about, but it seems to me that the bottom line is that Manly brought this on themselves by agreeing to the clause in the first place.

I understand times have changed and that the cliche of a contract ‘‘not being worth the paper it is written on’’ is often not far off the mark.

However, surely if a club is about to sign an individual the understanding should be that the recruit will be staying for at least the agreed time period.

I would be particularly concerned in signing a player if there were “buts” involved.

Now obviously this has to be a two-way street and in putting pen to paper that player should also have the expectation that he will not be moved on against his will before he has fulfilled his agreed obligations.

I may be advocating an impossible perfect world but I am a product of a time where a handshake was a man’s word and a contract was binding.

It would be reassuring if we could get back to a situation where a player left a club before his contract was up only if it was by mutual consent.

Due to his injury Kieran was unable to take his place for the Kiwis on Friday night, which kicked off a stand-alone representative weekend that I thought went off very well.

Of course the annual debate as to the validity of City versus Country again raised its head, but I am still of the belief that if the players want to be a part of it, then I’m happy for it to remain on the calendar.

The vast majority that I spoke to certainly were of the opinion that they wanted it to stay.

There is, however, one change that I would make to the concept and that is to introduce a variable which would avoid the regrettable angst caused by the Danny Buderus selection and subsequent withdrawal.

It would be along the lines that any player who has racked up nine or more State of Origins had the option to be available for selection.

This year it would have applied only to Buderus and Jarryd Hayne, but in the future it will be a larger number. I figure that if they have played in the equivalent of three Origin series we know what they are capable of.

It is generally understood that the game is not a “possibles v probables” when it comes to the state side, but a good performance is definitely a positive for the future while a poor showing will also not be forgotten.

I am sure that Melbourne’s Ryan Hinchcliffe would not have been mentioned so heavily in dispatches as an outside chance of making last week’s Kangaroo’s squad if he hadn’t taken man-of-the match honours in last season’s clash.


t should be remembered that this game may also be the highest rep honour achieved by a host of players who cherish the opportunity and jersey in the same way as those who have reached greater heights.

The game is also an enforced way of taking our code into country areas which are generally starved of having their heroes mix and perform up close and personal.

Apparently the hype and buzz in Mudgee in the weeks leading up this encounter was enormous, as it was in Port Macquarie and Albury in 2010 and 2011.

Surely this has to be a good thing.

As a Country supporter I’d also love to see players from now on wear the socks of their junior club.

It may look a little like a Barbarian-style hotchpotch, but I think it would really emphasise the understanding and meaning of where each player got their start.

I remember back in 1975 when Country travelled to the SCG and somehow knocked over the might of Langlands, Fulton and co. to upset the star-studded City side.

In the second row that day was an 18-year-old from Wagga called Steve McDonald, who just happened to be a member of the club for which I played juniors.

I’ve never forgotten how inspiring it was to see a young man who I watched train and play every week in the Riverina go to Sydney and knock over a team boasting a host of legends.

I can only imagine how I would have felt if he had done so wearing something directly associated with my Wagga Kangaroos.

Even if it was only a pair of socks.

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