Make no mistake – the Warriors have been the big winners in the Etene Nanai-Seturo situation.
It would be very easy to think rugby had won the fight given the kid will ultimately play the 15-a-side game but, with closer inspection, it is the 13-man code that has won this tug of war and the confidential compensation figure paid to the Warriors will reflect this.
The facts are simple – the Warriors contract with Nanai-Seturo stood up under law. Forget the rubbish about him being a minor when signing it or being able to resign from one code to play another sport. The contract that the St Kentigern's College product signed was a generic NRL playing contract that was ultimately found to be binding hence him having to get a release to play rugby.
The line in the sand has been drawn, the precedent set – the Warriors' junior contracts are binding and this has now been proven in a very public manner. Any youngster considering taking the free ride with the Warriors before the age of 18 and then jumping ship will not come out on top.
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This tug of war, for want of a better term, hasn't been about where the kid plays his footy. It was about how he went about switching to rugby and the league club got their way.
It is easy as pie for anyone to get out of a playing contract. The player just needs to make it clear they want out, ask for a release and work out a fair compensation for their existing club to go off and head in a different direction. Very few clubs will force someone to see out their contract if they know the relationship is untenable. The Warriors knew Nanai-Seturo was always going to end up playing union – this public fight has been about how he went about that.
Nanai-Seturo and rugby tried to avoid the compensation part and lost. The amount of compensation paid to the Warriors would almost certainly have been a lot more given the public knowledge and interest in the case than it would have been if Nanai-Seturo and rugby had sat down with the NRL club and asked for a release much earlier in the piece and in private.
Admittedly the outcome has been good for all parties – the talented Nanai-Seturo will play the code he wants, rugby gets their young star (albeit at a price) and the Warriors have just set an iron-clad precedent in ensuring no contracted player can just walk away from a deal in the future.
They will be celebrating at Mt Smart today, knowing they got exactly what they wanted from this situation.