Players Don’t Ask For A Release Without A Contract Elsewhere

Luke Lewis asked the Penrith Panthers for a release from the final two years of a lucrative contract. At the time many reasons were given, but I was one of the very few people that mentioned that the move would allow Lewis to capitalize on the remaining years of his playing career.

A lot of people rubbished the idea that Lewis left the Panthers for money. However, just this week, Lewis signed and even more lucrative 4 year deal with the Cronulla Sharks for the type of money he could never have earned had he played out the last two years of his Panthers contract and then gone on the open market.

You can make a case for some players being stupid, but most player managers know what they are doing. They have a duty of care to their clients and they would never tell a player to walk out on guaranteed money for the uncertainty of an open market.

On Sunday, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney will report that Sydney Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce will demand a release from the remainder of his contract at the club if head coach Brian Smith isn’t fired.

For Lewis, the lightening bold was the captaincy. For Pearce, its the coach. Either way, what is a club supposed to do? If they give in to a players demands, they lose control of the club. The inmates can no run the asylum. That leaves only one choice, allowing the player to leave.

If you think that Pearce hasn’t got a contract lined up at another club, just waiting to be signed and registered for the 2013 season, you are being naive.

There have been quiet rumblings about Pearce for a while now. There has been a lot of talk he would end up at the Wests Tigers. I would guess that the Parramatta Eels will now be a major player now that Ricky Stuart is on board, after all, he has coached Pearce at Origin level.

The interesting thing is, I still wouldn’t be surprised if Smith got axed by the Roosters at some point anyway. There are few, if any, decent coaching candidates out there right now. Could we see Roosters assistant coach Matthew Elliott coaching Sonny Bill Williams next season?

I sure hope so….

I think the thing that gets most fans is not so much the player movement, but the need to try and build and elaborate story around why a player wants to leave a club.

If Luke Lewis for instance had come out and said “I’m 29 years old, I have one last good contract in me before I retire. I’ve given 11 of my best seasons to the Panthers, and now I need to think about my future and think about life after football. I’ve therefore asked the Panthers for a release from my contract so that I can secure my future at another club.”.

If players were as straight forward and as honest as that, fans wouldn’t have any issues. Instead, we have to hear about players wanting challenges and goals and all of this other crap.

So the next time you hear about a star player looking for a release, take a look at the lay of the land. Think about who has salary cap space left. Think about who would be a good fit for that player. Chances are, he already has signed a contract with that team and all that needs to be done is to hand the paper work into the NRL.

After all, you don’t walk out of guaranteed money unless someone else is offering you a whole lot more…

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