NRL’s Refusal To Register Issac Lukes Contract Is A Restraint Of Trade

South Sydney Rabbitohs

South Sydney hooker Issac Luke had a bit of a situation on his hands recently. For what ever reason, he had a falling out with his player agent, and that meant that he had to put his upcoming contract negotiations on hold for quite some time.

Luke is the current New Zealand test hooker, he is a player a number of clubs would love to have, and the South Sydney Rabbitohs were keen to get him signed to a long term deal as soon as they could so they didn’t lose their World Cup winning hooker.

What Luke did was take it upon himself to negotiate his own long term deal to stay at South Sydney. Both Luke and Souths agreed to a deal and they sent it in for the NRL to sign off on.

It is now being reported that the NRL will not register Lukes contract because of a protest by the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme.

What is the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme?

Basically it is an association of player agents, back by the NRL, that enforced a minimum standard on player agents.

See, in the past, any Tom, Dick or Harry could claim to be a players agent, even if they had no idea what they were doing. The Player Agent Accreditation Scheme is basically there to stop a young kid signing his rights over to someone who is either out of their depth in negotiations, or someone who, lets just say, doesn’t have the players best interest at heart.

So, the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme, which is made up of player agents, are horrified at the thought that a player would negotiate his own contract and no need…well…one of them!

Now, in the old days, all players negotiated their own contracts. Some might have had a bit of support from an old player, a mate, a parent, an uncle….but at the end of the day, it was all down to what the player wanted.

As Rugby League become more of a big business and some clubs become better run, players were finding they simply were not equipped with the tools to negotiate with the business minds that run clubs these days, so they took on board professional player agents who deal with contract negotiations as a full time job.

These days however, there are some players out there that are fully capable of negotiating their own contracts. Some players these days study part time, they get business degree’s of of their, and I dare say we have a number of players in the NRL who have the business acumen to leave some player agents for dead!

The Player Agent Accreditation Scheme basically wants you to sign with a select few player agents, or get the person that wants to represent you to jump through a few hoops to gain accreditation, and then it is still subject to someone signing off on you!

We’ve seen recently, and not naming any names, that some people that are signed up to the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme are not exactly the type of characters you want dealing with anyone’s negotiations of any kind!

Its within the Player Agent Accreditation Scheme’s own self interests to make sure every Rugby League player is filtered through this Accreditation system. They might not get every player, but they’ll get most of them.

Which brings me back to Issac Luke.

When you remember what the foundations of our game are built on, its is preposterous that we would come to a situation where a player can no negotiate his own contract!

Surely blocking a player from signing a contract to play Rugby League with his current club, under what is a legal (By the laws of the game) contract is the epitome of what constitutes a restraint of trade!

The National Rugby League works with a salary cap, which in itself is a restraint of trade. Players do not challenge this however as its a system that works, and they realize that it is in the best interests of the game to have a salary cap. Hell, its a system that, at the end of the day, protects them from signing a contract with a club, having that club fall over, and then the player being out of pocket.

The salary cap keeps the players employers in business, and the players know that.

However, once you start telling players they can not sign legal contracts with a club unless they hand over a certain percentage of their salary to a third party…that is a disgrace!

The Rugby League Players Association should storm into this situation and start kicking heads. This is the very foundation of what they should be standing up for, a player who is being railroaded by a bureaucratic system that is in no way, shape or form taking into account the players best interests.

If Issac Luke is not allowed to negotiate his own contract, he should tell the NRL that he will take them to court, and not only challenge their ability to stop him and his club signing a deal that is legal under the games rules, but also challenge the salary cap which, by the laws of the land, is not a legal device.

The NRL simply needs to wake up to itself in this situation. Here you have a player that wants to remain in the competition and remain with the club that developed him. This is not a bad situation, in fact, it is pretty much the ideal situation from the NRL’s point of view.

Issac Lukes contract MUST be registered. If it isn’t then you have to ask, who’s interests are the NRL serving in this matter, because it is not South Sydneys and it certainly isn’t Issac Lukes.

Liked it? Take a second to support League Freak on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply