The just cause of integrity and
transparency in the management of professional rugby league players has been
enhanced by the decision to deny accreditation to high profile player
manager/agent Gavin Orr.

And the cause has been done no harm from
the ringing endorsement the accreditation system has received from the game’s
highest profile player, Andrew Johns.

Despite the serious allegation made against
him relating to a forged contract, Orr chose – as was his right – not to defend
the allegation before the NRL Player Accreditation Committee. The Committee
unanimously denied him accreditation.

Regrettably, he will not be prevented from
acting as an agent or manager for NRL players. The League does not have the
power to prevent anyone acting as a player manager or agent – even if they are
denied accreditation.

The challenge the NRL needs to take up this
year is to determine how it can get that power. And it may need to do
so in
conjunction with the AFL, ARU, Cricket Australia etc. If it requires
legislation to do so, then one would hope the rugby league loving
Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland would
look favourably on any proposal.

The player managers (as a group) can stand
in the way of common sense reform to the way rugby league is administered. Here
is one example passed on to me by one of the game’s most respected observers –
and a Crikey reader!

The June 30 signing deadline for players
switching clubs, joining clubs etc is a serious disruption for all involved.
What’s the sense in a player having to worry about contract details for the
next season smack bang in the middle of the current season?

Our reader suggests October be declared a “trading month.” It is after the grand final, and before pre-season training
starts. But no, it does not suit player managers
wanting to bargain on behalf of their clients, so they resist any change – no
matter how logical it might be.

The body that might one day have a look at
player managers and their role in the professional game is the Australian
Competition and Consumer Commission. Under Graeme Samuel’s chairmanship, the
ACCC has taken a comprehensive interest in collusion. Does anyone seriously believe there is no room
for collusion over player contracts and transfers when one manager, or
management firm, represents a whole group of players at the one time, rushing
to meet the June 30 deadline?

Peter Fray

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