The saga over the playing future of the Melbourne Storm’s Steve Turner finally came to an end yesterday – and the whole sorry business reflects poorly on just about all the participants involved.
It ended up the only way it could – with Turner staying with the Melbourne Storm, and the Gold Coast Titans being compensated with two unnamed junior players and an undisclosed monetary payment.
It is surely more that an coincidence that on the day this sorry saga was settled, the Titans signed ex-Wallaby Mat Rogers for the coming season, bringing forward by a year his contract to join the new club in the NRL premiership.
That it took almost six months to resolve the issue must surely force the National Rugby League urgently to review the whole player contract process.
The upshot of that review must be the establishment of a mediation process overseen by the NRL, the outcome of which all clubs, players and player managers must abide by.
The obstinate stance of both the Storm and Titans hardly reflects credit on either club, and though the NRL sided with the Titans, its inability to resolve the impasse must surely require a rethink in the league’s boardroom.
The NRL has an excellent appeals process – headed by the distinguished Sir Laurence Street – and if it wants to avoid the Turner outcome being an undesirable precedent then it should review the player contract and dispute resolution processes and have the appeals board mediate, and if need be, arbitrate, when clubs and players are in dispute.
It needs to be said that neither Steve Turner nor his manager deserves any credit either. There is no doubt he “agreed” to join the Titans, and his manager should have ensured that he either signed the contract or tore it up. His delay in doing either makes matters significantly worse.
Today both clubs will be reasonably satisfied with yesterday’s outcome. But it is an outcome that could and should have been achieved months ago.
It is now up to the NRL to ensure rules are put in place that minimise the prospect of the Steve Turner saga being repeated in the future.