Last week, Ricky Stuart brought Parramatta Eels into a meeting. At that meeting he put up a list of players the club would not be re-signing for the 2014 season.
Whether or not you agree with how Stuart and the Eels handled the entire situation, you can not argue against the fact that this is the reality of professional football. Whether it happened one way or another, all of the players the Parramatta Eels had on their list were not going to be re-signed.
This is something that happens all the time in the NRL. Some of the greatest players in the game have been brought in and told they would not be re-signed by their club.
How that effects a player, only a player that has been released really knows. How a player reacts to that news says a lot about their professionalism.
As the captain of the struggling Parramatta Eels, Reni Maitua is in a position of leadership. The Eels chose him as captain to set an example for other players at the club.
When Maitua saw his name on that list, his reaction was telling. He decided to pull out of the following game against the Sydney Roosters. He went to the game, he even walked out onto the field with the players as they warmed up for the match. Then, come game time, he walked back to the bench and sat watching his team mates lose to the Roosters 38-24.
In that side were a number of players that had also been told they would not be re-signed by the club. Younger players. Player who couldn’t have their say in the media and get their names out there. Some players who will be wondering if this is the end of their football careers all together.
How Reni Maitua could walk into the Parramatta Eels dressing rooms at full time and look those players in the eye is beyond me!
If Reni Maitua felt hard done by, maybe now he understands how everyone at the Cronulla Sharks felt in 2009 when just 8 games into his contract Maitua tested positive for the use of Clenbuterol. Maitua was banned for two years and never played another game for the Sharks.
As a 28 year old, the Parramatta Eels picked Maitua up off the scrapheap. When you consider that his best years were in the middle of the last decade….he was luck to even get that chance! Having watched him over the last two seasons, Maitua is lucky the Eels have struggled because he isn’t nearly the player he once was.
Now at the age of 31, and not playing all that well, Maitua has the gall to be upset when the Eels decide to not re-sign him? He feels he can play the role of a martyr? Please…
Through his actions over the last week Reni Maitua has turned himself from being a player a club might possibly sign to bolster their depth to a player that looks like nothing but a potential problem. Someone that will cause issues and spit the dummy as soon as things don’t go his way. Maitua basically poisoned his own name in the player market!
It is tough when a player comes to the realization that their football career is coming to an end. For most players it happens when they are young, really young, and some club official informs them that next season they won’t be re-signed to contract to continue playing in the junior ranks. If a player is lucky, they get to play first grade football, and they join a list of players that can say they played for one of our games great clubs.
At the age of 31, Reni Maitua can say that he played first grade football, that he won a premiership with the Canterbury Bulldogs, and that in 2006 he represented his country in a single test match.
Reni Maitua should endlessly thank the Parramatta Eels that he is able to finish his career on the football field and not in a pub somewhere talking about how his career ended with a drugs suspension.
One thing I know for sure is that the Eels will be content that they made the right decision after witnessing the behavior of Reni Maitua over the last week.