Contract rebels – it has to stop

Here’s the definition of a contract. A written or spoken agreement, especially one concerning employment, sales, or tenancy, which is intended to be enforceable by law.

Sadly, however, it appears there is an ever-growing number of players who don’t appear to take seriously what they are signing up for.

Retiring wingers, AWOL halfbacks, homesick hookers. Whatever next?

Leeds’ chief executive, Gary Hetherington, is right, the game’s integrity is under threat – and the sport must stand its ground.

Rugby League, and in particular Super League, has been made a complete laughing stock out of following the ongoing sagas surrounding James Segeyaro, Denny Solomona and Chris Sandow.

The latest shambles in the ongoing farce was when Steve Diamond, the director of rugby at Solomona-bound Sale Sharks, revealed to the world that Super League’s record-breaking try scorer had retired from Rugby League. No official announcement from the player or his representatives, no announcement from the club Solomona is actually employed by, Castleford Tigers, but by the chief of a rugby union club claiming they are “interested” in signing the 23-year-old.

The cases surrounding all three players are different, but there is one common denominator, they all have or want to walk out of contracts they were happy to sign.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but when you break contracts, there are implications. The quicker everyone learns that, the better. I couldn’t just walk out of my phone contract because I got bored or because I  wanted a shiny new iPhone, there would be financial consequences involved. Do Rugby League players think they are above this? If they do, it needs nipping in the bud, now.

Mental health issues have been cited, and of course, this has to be respected. But, in the case of Segeyaro, it’s difficult to have too much sympathy when he agreed to stay at Leeds until 2018 just two months ago.

Sandow also attributed homesickness to his reason for quitting Warrington, but again, why sign a contract to play for a club you don’t want to be at?

And then there’s the case of Solomona.

Denny’s desire to join Sale is understandable. Money, fame and the opportunity to play the game he loved as a child. It’s hard to begrudge him that.

But let’s not forget, this is the same guy that signed a new three-year contract with the club less than a year ago. Commitment wasn’t an issue then, nor was it after the club offered him a deal when he suffered relegation with London Broncos.

The fact that three high-profile stars are just allowed to walk away is of real concern to Super League. It has set a damaging precedent and increases the risk of similar situations repeating themselves all too often.

Thankfully, both Castleford and Leeds are taking stands. The Tigers have launched legal proceedings, while the Rhinos are adamant that they will not let Segeyaro walk out of his commitment to the club.

Both have obligations to do so, not just for themselves, but the competition as a whole.

It’s now critically important that both clubs emerge as the authority figures, but it’s difficult to see how they can come out of this victorious. Even if they win the battle, they’re still likely to lose their player. Is it likely that either of these players will play for their clubs again. Sadly, as much as the clubs may push for this to happen, it’s a long shot.

But if this doesn’t happen, Super League could face a murky future in this area.