Was Ivan Cleary right to release Mitchell Moses?

David Lord Columnist

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    Mitchell Moses will turn out for Parramatta this afternoon when he was contracted to Wests Tigers until the end of the season. Are contracts becoming meaningless?

    The signing on the dotted line is a guarantee to the club a player just can’t wander off when it suits, and it’s a guarantee to the player that, if he behaves himself, the club can’t punt him unless they pay out the contract. It’s a fair crack of the whip both ways.

    But Mitchell Moses is different. All his young life he’s been a Balmain Tiger, watching his uncle Benny Elias strut his stuff with Steve Roach, Paul Sironen, Wayne Pearce, and Garry Jack with Leichhardt Oval sacred ground.

    But when Moses was old enough to be among the big boys, the Tiger junior had to play for the Wests Tigers, an amalgamation of the Western Suburbs Magpies and the Balmain Tigers, two foundation clubs from 1908.

    The administrators of the day should be pilloried for deciding on three amalgamations that should never have happened: Manly took only two seasons to gobble up another foundation club in North Sydney; the ill-fated Northern Eagles robbed Manly legends Steve Menzies and Geoff Toovey, among others, of one-club status; and St George gobbled up Illawarra very quickly, so the Dragons tag lives on.

    But Balmain is there as Tigers in name only. Wests control 75 per cent of the Wests Tigers club, Balmain just 25 per cent.

    There’s no culture nor tradition in Wests Tigers, with a shambles board and high coaching turnover despite winning the premiership in 2005. That did the club no favours, as it appeared on paper the amalgamation was a success – but nothing could be further from the truth.

    What should have happened in 2000 was that North Sydney, Illawarra and Wests should have been punted, leaving Manly, St George and Balmain intact to continue their status in the NRL – then Balmain juniors like Mitchell Moses, Aaron Woods and James Tedesco would most probably be Tigers for life.

    But thanks to Wests Tigers’s shameful handling Moses is an Eel today – and next season Woods will be a Bulldog and Tedesco a Rooster, and all that wonderful talent will be lost to Balmain fans who have been swallowed up by Wests.

    So Ivan Cleary had no option but to release Mitchell Moses after the board had told the youngest he wasn’t on the priority list to be retained.

    Last night the Wests Tigers were hammered 36-0 by the Broncos. The Wests Tigers board deserved the humiliation. The players do not.

    The NRL can correct a major wrong by punting Wests Tigers and bringing back the Balmain Tigers to a full Leichhardt Oval.

    If only.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles

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