Sport

OPINION: Fear and loathing in rugby league

EVEN the purists amongst us have to face the fact that sport is entirely dictated by money.

The business models of sports clubs are more important than the players' welfare, and this is becoming more and more obvious, especially in the NRL.

I was looking at player movements recently and the amount of players that have transferred clubs pre-season is staggering.

To put this in a non-sporting context, this would be the same as turning up to work on Monday, only to be told by your boss that you no longer fit the brief and that you are 'free' to look for another job.

Further, if you didn't look for other employment (which you would have to do to make a living) you would be on the outer, and no one would talk to you, and you need to take the hint and get another job, so we don't have to worry about you.

To the everyday person, this news would be very stressful, and would have an impact on how that person views their workplace.

However, this is the reality faced by many professional sportspeople every day.

The cynics would say that this is what they have signed up for, but the reality is this is more than just about players moving clubs, this is a welfare issue.

In my view, Chris McQueen is the most hard done by this year in terms of his treatment.

A premiership player with South Sydney, McQueen has battled his way through the Queensland Cup and New South Wales Premier League to become part of a winning Origin series.

His spot this year was taken by a bloke who turned his back on South Sydney and on rugby league and decided that he wanted to play rugby union in England.

That same person turned out not to be very good at rugby union and has now returned to the NRL forcing McQueen out.

McQueen has since gained employment with the Gold Coast Titans, but I cannot help but feel he, along with the likes of Peter Hiku and Dale Copley, deserved better treatment from their respective clubs.

My argument here has nothing to do with the salary cap, it has nothing to do with players who opt out of their contracts to look for better money, it does, however, have everything to do with the NRL providing some sort of insurance measure to players who are released by their club purely for business purposes.

How many times have league fans heard from players over the past couple of years words to the effect of, "I would have loved to be a one-club player, but..."

That "but" is usually a passive reference to the club that has left them high and dry.

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