THERE comes at a time when some clubs have to sell some of their best players – whether that’s because a rival can afford a better deal or because the club itself is suffering financially, it can be hard to take for a club and its fans.
One of those players that a director of rugby ‘in tears’ is current New Zealand Warriors star Ben Murdoch-Masila.
The rampaging Tonga forward joined the Salford Red Devils in 2016 and went on to register 60 appearances for the club, but he left the AJ Bell Stadium to move to the Warrington Wolves in 2018.
There he played 68 times, but the deal that took Murdoch-Masila from Salford to Warrington is one that ‘hurt’ Salford director of rugby Ian Blease.
“We had to sell Ben Murdoch-Masila and Gareth O’Brien to balance the books, which really hurt me. I cried in my office when we sold Ben, I couldn’t believe he was going and it really upset me,” Blease told Roar.
“But we had to do it at certain times. I hope it doesn’t happen again but you never know with Salford. We have to make tough decisions.”
That means that the Red Devils need to be more careful about their transfer policy and that sometimes means that Salford bring in older players that bely their age.
The policy of signing older players is often where the data comes in, because Salford will identify where the age and the body clock are out of sync, and swoop.
“I’m not ageist,” Blease continued. “For me, if you look at the player’s body and the physical records that are available, you can make a judgement.
“Tim Lafai is a great example. He’s 32 but hasn’t played in the NRL for a couple of years so his body was still good.
“Some clubs don’t want certain players over a certain age, but I’ve never been like that. You’ve got to do your background work and get your physio involved.
“Age is not a main driver. I have an eye on it, of course I do, and more people have mentioned it this year. But I’m comfortable with it.”