James Tedesco, Josh Papalii, Daly Cherry-Evans and now potentially Tyrone Peachey. All played State of Origin this year, are all pivotal players for their club and all have reneged on a contract. The dust hasn’t settled on the Peachey situation so let’s not hang him out to dry just yet but it isn’t looking great for the Titans.
All of the above players are marquee level. Their recruitment by a club will have wide reaching effects on their list management, through the large salary they demand and also using their future presence as a marketing tool to other potential recruits. They are not the only players to backflip on a contract and they certainly won’t be the last.
For the Gold Coast this is an all too familiar situation. The Cherry-Evans debacle is in recent memory but they lost a recruit before they played their initial game with Irishman Brian Carney deciding not to join the club after just one training session.
Is there something wrong with the Gold Coast Titans? Jarryd Hayne played football well below what he is capable of there and Bryce Cartwright has gone from one of the best young players in the NRL to the Tweed Head Seagulls in 14 games. The question of viability of sports franchises on the glitter strip is a one for another day but at the moment it seems like unfairly the Titans have these issues more than most.
Does the blame for these situations rest with the players, managers or the NRL? Rules will always be bent. Players rightly want the best for themselves, managers want the best for their players and the game hasn’t set harsh enough guidelines for honouring contracts.
The reality is there is no player of Tyrone Peachey’s calibre on the player market in September for the coming season. If he doesn’t arrive then there is a massive hole in the roster that they largely would have built around his recruitment. Had he said no to the Titans back in March then they would have pursued other players, no problem. Now they are stuck, and well within their rights to dig their heels in.
What is the solution? Do we penalise the players or managers financially or otherwise? Should compensation be paid to the affected team by the benefiting one? Should that player be able to play against the side they signed to for the duration of the agreed contract period?
There is no perfect solution, but some kind of deterrent is needed and a discussion needs to be had. There needs to be further disincentive for players to back out on a deal. Hopefully Peachey finishes this season at the Panthers and heads off to the Gold Coast and continues to play great rugby league, the Titans and their supporters deserve it.