Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh McGahan: Breaking contracts a sneaky way out

Ricky Stuart. Photo / NZPA
Ricky Stuart. Photo / NZPA

Ricky Stuart has decided to return to coach the Canberra Raiders in 2014 and beyond, so what is a contract worth now?

Given his official justification - the ubiquitous for family reasons - it is evident that other factors have influenced his decision and thus it must be asked: What is the real reason?

We have witnessed recently a number of requests for release from contracts on compassionate grounds where people wish to be near family. In Ricky's case, my opinion is that it is a convenient excuse to leave the dysfunctional Eels.

Ben Barba is moving to Brisbane to be near his children and partner, but this has another side to the story. It was touted early this year that Barba will be at the Broncos and this was not long after Corey Norman had decided to move to Parramatta, so the wheels had already been in motion for who Brisbane wanted as his replacement.

It was also evident that the current halves in Peter Wallace and Scott Prince were not going to deliver what was necessary for Brisbane.

All of a sudden it is understood that young gun Anthony Milford from the Raiders, was wanting to move back to Queensland to be near his ill father...coincidence?

It's a manufactured scenario that allows a player to break his contract with time to still serve on it. The insistence that it is nothing more than a boy wanting to be near his father to support his family is a smoke screen. Manipulation of this kind is a trend sneaking into rugby league to legitimately move players around.

It has happened in Europe for many years by agents requesting transfers to another club on behalf of players and when the request is denied, the player starts to become disruptive until he turns into a problem; he then gets his way and moves on.

The less troublesome approach is to request a move for personal reasons where you are less likely to anger the fans.

Back to Ricky Stuart; the only way he could do this without 100 per cent scorn was on personal grounds and the well-being of his daughter.

He had grounds to leave because a clause written into his contract allowed him to move if the board interfered with his job. The board did not interfere as such but their public grievances were causing him issues.

But more than this, Ricky created a problem by cutting half of his squad and signed new talent for the future. How can you walk out while speaking of perseverance? Use the family card. Not disregarding the fact that his daughter suffers an illness, but Ricky has long suffered in Sydney without family support. It appears a convenient defence at a difficult time.

- Herald on Sunday

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Hugh McGahan is a former Kiwis player and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Hugh Joseph McGahan MBE was a renowned rugby league player and coach who represented New Zealand in no less than 53 test matches, captaining 17 of them. Beginning his career in Auckland he later moved to Sydney where he played over 100 matches for the Roosters, finishing his career in 1991 as captain-coach of the eastern Sydney outfit. Accolades were never far away from the impressive Kiwi lock and in 1987 McGahan jointly won the prestigious Golden Boot Award, the first row forward at the time to win the award. Hugh McGahan’s international career was similarly impressive coming to the fore in 1982 after scoring a remarkable six tries for the Kiwis against Papua New Guinea in Auckland. Hugh Mcgahan ended his career with distinguished honours as he was awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to rugby and later inducted into the NZRL Legends of League. He continues to write sports columns for the New Zealand Herald.

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