Tallis’s blunt fix to NRL contract fiasco
Fed up with rugby league's growing lack of loyalty, Gorden Tallis has a simple get-tough solution to make sure the Ryan Matterson contract fiasco never happens again. And all it requires is some strong leadership.
A man who proved a long time ago that his word is his bond, Tallis has called on NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg to join forces with clubs and start standing down players for breaking contracts.
The ugly situation involving the former Wests Tigers forward's transfer to Parramatta has once again highlighted the true value of a current NRL playing contract.
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Matterson has been accused of a greedy grab for cash after wanting out after the first season of a rich $1 million three-year deal at the Tigers.
Outgoing Tigers chairman Barry O'Farrell this week blamed money-hungry player agents for driving the disloyalty.
Tallis agreed: "It is the managers that are doing this. They are even eating each other up.
"It is embarrassing. They run the game at the moment.
"But Todd, the clubs and the CEOs need to do something about it."
Tallis reckons the answer is this simple, go back to the future.
Tallis famously sat out an entire rugby league season in 1996 during the Super League War after signing to play with the Brisbane Broncos while still contracted to the ARL-aligned St George.
"I don't want this to be another Ryan Matterson beat-up but I would just love clubs to get back a little bit of normality and they have a chance here," Tallis continued.
"I sat out the season 20 years ago.
"There were so many players who had changed clubs at the time (during Super League) but no board or CEO showed the ticker of Brian Johnston and what the Dragons did back then.
"Whether I liked it or not it taught me a valuable lesson in life.
"At the time I thought the world was going to end.
"I remember asking my Dad and Dad said, 'What did you say you were going to do?'
"I said, 'Sit out a year'.
"He said, 'Well, that's it'.
"There was no coming back from what you said.
"And there were some really tough times and some tears because the game was all I knew and it was what I loved.
"For a 20-year-old kid from the housing commission in Townsville the game was everything for me.
"I didn't have anything to go to.
"But I was very careful after that, that every time I signed a contract I knew what I was getting myself into."
New NRL Commission chairman Peter V'landys recently revealed his seven-point plan to fix rugby league but did not mention the need to address this issue that upsets and angers so many fans.
Under the current guidelines it is just too easy for players and clubs to break contracts and it goes both ways.
There has been a suggestion that one way to make sure players aren't chasing more money is for the NRL not to register any contract for a greater value than the existing one.
Tallis said talk Matterson wanted out because of a rumoured fall-out with Tigers coach Michael Maguire didn't wash with him.
"I didn't talk to Brian Smith (his former Dragons coach) for the last 12 weeks of my contract," Tallis recalled.
"Did not say one word.
"But you don't have to love your boss.
"You go ask any employee in Australia today whether they like their boss. They still turn up to work and do their jobs.
"I think the fans would love it (for the NRL to suspend players).
"Let's start getting some power back to the clubs because at the moment the clubs have no power and this situation proves that.
"The only people who can make it happen is the NRL and the clubs.
"In my era blokes like Allan Langer no doubt got offered a shit load more money to go play at other clubs.
"But I don't think there is enough respect between the players and the clubs these days."