For a team that is still three months away from its first NRL appearance, the Gold Coast Titans are already a magnet for trouble when it comes to players wanting to play elsewhere.

The Steve Turner saga has reached “Blue Hills” proportions in terms of its length, and has become as boring. The Melbourne Storm’s Turner allegedly agreed to join the Titans early this season only to change his mind before he formally signed the contract.

Ever since, the Titans have been insisting he honour whatever the agreement was, with the Titans threatening to prevent him playing rugby league with any club for the duration of his supposed Titans contract. Even though he has no intention of joining the Gold Coast team, he is being fined for not attending pre-season training.

The NRL is predictably backing the Titans because it does not want to open a “Pandora’s box” on player contracts.

The Titans had also signed the Penrith Panthers’ Frank Puletua. When he wanted a release to stay in Sydney – allegedly on family grounds – the Titans steadfastly refused, only to give way a couple of weeks ago.

But now the Titans are running the real risk of being accused of double standards.

The Wallabies’ Mat Rogers has signed up with the Titans for the 2008 season – when his ARU contract ends. But Rogers has done nothing whatsoever to dispel reports he wants to break his ARU contract and join the Titans in 2007.

Now if the Titans are so insistent that a young, and very accomplished player like Steve Turner effectively end his career unless he honours his “contract” to join the club, surely the club would not be interested in Mat Rogers while he remains under a clear, highly-paid ARU contract?

Like hell they wouldn’t be!

When asked about the possibility of Rogers joining the club a year early, this is what coach John Cartwright said in the Gold Coast Bulletin today: “You don’t get those players (such as Rogers) every day and to have him added to the list at such a late stage would be a huge bonus”.

Seems hypocrisy is not confined to just politics!

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey