The predictable whingeing and whining from
the New Zealand Warriors over the fine and loss of four competition points
needs to end. The Club can count itself very lucky the breaches were uncovered
before, and not during, the season. The loss of four points (two wins) will
hurt, but it is not the end of the season. The fine of $430,000 is about half
of what would have been imposed had the current Warriors management not co-operated
fully with the investigation.

The Warriors management claim it deserved a
much lesser penalty (ie no loss of points) because it was not involved in the
illegal transactions, and it made full disclosures to the NRL.

There is one small problem with that
defence. The current Warriors management will benefit from the malpractice this
season, and beyond, because there are players – possibly high profile players –
who would not be in the 2006 Warriors squad but for the salary cap abuses in
2004 and 2005.

The Warriors have not been unfairly
treated. They need to get on with the season ahead – a four point loss is a
burden, but hardly the end of the world. Now the focus shifts to where it ought to
be – on the role of player managers/agents.

Tomorrow the NRL Accreditation Committee
will be briefed by the Salary Cap Auditor on issues concerning player managers
uncovered in the Warriors audit. Over the weekend it was alleged one high
profile manager was paid secret commissions by the Warriors, and there are also
allegations about travel and other benefits to encourage managers to get their
players to sign with, or stay with, the club.

If the allegations are proven, the player
manager or managers concerned are likely to lose their accreditation, but they
will still most likely to be able to continue managing players – unless the
clubs, and the players association, effectively black ban managers who lose
accreditation.

This issue has some way to run. And so it
should.

Peter Fray

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