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Volume 6 No. 212
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Execs Say National Rugby League CEO Dave Smith's War Chest Could Backfire

Some of the National Rugby League’s most respected execs believe that the game "may have created more problems than it solved" by giving CEO Dave Smith "the power to intervene in the pursuit of elite players from rival codes," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Several CEOs "raised their concerns" when the concept was first raised at a meeting in Auckland prior to the nines in February. Yet the NRL "pressed ahead with the concept, informing the clubs of its decision at a meeting last Wednesday." Cronulla CEO Steve Noyce said, “I think the majority voted against it (earlier this year) and I think people haven’t thought through the whole process. Sometimes you can panic when you don’t need to. Our game is a great game and it produces great athletes.” Canberra CEO Don Furner said, “To me it’s only going to help one or two high-profile clubs. I don’t know why it’s been brought in." While concerns were raised by some CEOs, others were willing to reserve their judgment until the rule was ¬≠actually put into practice. Melbourne CEO Mark Evans said, "I am probably on balance in favor of giving the chief executive some discretion if and when circumstances occur. I think on the whole it’s better to have it than not have it. But I don’t think it will be exercised very often" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 5/9).

TAKING A SABBATICAL: The AAP's Darren Walton reported Former Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock said that the Australian Rugby Union "must consider allowing players to take sabbaticals between Rugby World Cups, in a bid to combat rugby league's forecast raid on the 15-man code." Mortlock "agrees with fellow ex-Wallabies skipper Phil Waugh" that new powers enabling Smith to lure big-name players "poses a serious threat to Australian rugby." Waugh said the ARU needs to "think outside the square" to avoid losing its stars. Mortlock: "He's holding the trump card up his sleeve" (AAP, 5/8).

TIGERS' APPEAL: The AAP reported Wests Tigers "are planning to appeal" a A$20,000 ($18,700) fine "for breaching the NRL's concussion rules." Coach Mick Potter expressed "shock that the club had even been investigated." Potter "launched a passionate defence of the club's medical staff and said the Tigers had a strong case to win their appeal, which must be lodged within five working days." Potter: "I think our medical staff did everything possible and the right thing on the day" (AAP, 5/8).

AGENT SHAKE-UP: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported player managers "could lose their clients if they do not regularly catch up with them face-to-face under a raft of proposals being considered by the NRL." The NRL "is looking at a raft of potential changes to how managers interact with the game and its stars." One of the more "radical proposals" is to ensure there is a "mandatory face-to-face catch-up on a regular basis." There are also concerns that some ''six-and-a-half per-centers'' have so many clients on their books that "they could not possibly be able to devote the time required to properly guide them on and off the field" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 5/8).