Issac Luke’s dream of becoming a South Sydney Rabbitoh for life is under threat following a dispute with his management company that has been dragging on since last year.
Luke is off contract at South Sydney at the end of the season and has already told club officials he wants to remain in red and green for the rest of his career.
“Obviously from our point of view Issac Luke is a priority for us,” Souths chief executive Shane Richardson said yesterday.
“Issac’s happy at the club and we’re happy with Issac and we’ve just got to work through the dispute with his management.”
Luke is managed by Gavin and Chris Orr of Pacific Sports Management, which looks after the interests of a host of NRL stars including Cooper Cronk, Greg Bird, Nate Myles and Steve Matai.
Chris Orr downplayed the dispute yesterday but admitted they had struggled to sit down with Luke and hear his complaints against them. While most players become free agents when their contracts expire, Luke signed a five-year deal with Pacific Sports last year which ties him to the Orrs until 2014. The Orrs suspect Luke may have already retained a rival sports company to handle his business which could lead to legal implications if any new contract is signed.
“To this date we’ve received no letter of termination and we’ve got a contract with him until 2014 — end of story,” Orr said yesterday.
“Of course we’d like to hang on to him and of course we think we’ve done the right thing through the course of his career — I think we signed him at age 16.
“All we’re doing is pursuing Issac to let us know where it all stands at the moment. If he has a beef, he hasn’t outlined it to us.
“If a player says he’s leaving a club, normally he’s found an alternative club.
“If a player says he’s leaving an agent he’s already spoken to them and been sold a different dream from another agent.”
The Orrs would be reticent to lose another big name off their books after former Bulldogs superstar Sonny Bill Williams walked out on them — and the game — in 2008 to defect to rugby union.
The Souths hooker has enlisted high-profile lawyer Adam Houda as his legal counsel.
Although Souths missed out on the finals last year, Luke stood out and it was no surprise their form dropped off after he injured his shoulder midway through the season.
Souths would be keen to settle the matter sooner rather than later as they have other players off contract this year including the halves pairing of John Sutton and Chris Sandow.