The Canterbury Bulldogs have a problem. They have invested a lot of time and money in a player who now wants out of the club.
Ben Hannant signed a 3 year deal with the Canterbury Bulldogs after the Brisbane Broncos chose not to offer him enough money. He moved to Sydney with his young family, had a great season that saw the Bulldogs go from Wooden Spooners to a Premiership threat. He played for Queensland and cemented his place in the Test side.
Something funny happened along the way though…
Brisbane found themselves with a lot of salary cap room and a big hole in their forward pack.
In am amazing coincidence, Ben Hannant asked to be released from his contract at the end of the 2010 season, and sooner if possible, because he was home sick and he wanted to head back to South East Queensland.
Now Hannant has two choices…
He can sign for his old club, the Brisbane Broncos, or he can sign for the Gold Coast Titans who also desperately need a decent forward to shore up their terribly soft pack.
Great for Hannant, great for the Titans or Broncos…..completely stuffed for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs have already said they will only release Hannant if they receive compensation in return, and if you ask me, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Greg Bird running around with the Doggies next season.
However this who saga has brought into question moves that some players make.
Hannant left Brisbane but found long term financial security with the Bulldogs.
If Hannant gets injured tomorrow, the Bulldogs are financially obligated to pay him for the rest of the season. If, heaven forbid, Hannant has a career ending injury next week, he is assured to be paid his full salary by the Bulldogs for the remainder of his contract.
If the Broncos and Titans both decide they don’t want Ben Hannant, how long do you think it will take him to go back to the Bulldogs and tell them he changed his mind and is happy to stay in Sydney and get very well paid for the next two seasons?
In short, Hannant wants to have his cake, and eat it too.
The NRL can not allow this to become a regular occurrence.
There needs to be a set compensation package for any club that decided to receive a player who was under contract and asked to be released, one that is big enough to make a team think twice about taking on such a player.
There has been talk the Bulldogs might look to take the Titans Luke Bailey in return for Hannant, however I think it should go further.
The Titans should have to pay the Bulldogs a fee to release Hannant from his contract. A figure that is large enough to make any future moves like this a real deterrent for other clubs to look into.
Players can’t look to sign large, long term deals, giving them security, and yet knowing they don’t intend to see out that contract.
On the flip side clubs can’t think that they can induce a player to break his contract unless they are willing to pay a massive transfer fee that just makes such a move not worth it.
I don’t think fans mind seeing players move clubs as much as the media says. Loyalty payments for juniors would be great, however for every player your club loses that disappoints you, you have another coming to your club that excites you. It all balances out.
However I don’t think ANY fan likes seeing a player break a contract the way Ben Hannant wants to.
The NRL needs to stop this from happening in the future.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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