Paul McGregor’s decision to start Ben Hunt at hooker for this week’s clash against the Manly Sea Eagles marks a new high in salary cap history.
What does the NRL do when contracted players are accused of misbehaving, breaching their contracts or carrying out criminal behaviour?
These are not simple questions and of course there are no simple answers.
The current problem that is sending Todd Greenberg and the NRL commission into paralysis is what to do with Jack de Belin. De Belin is currently facing charges that, because he is pleading not guilty, look like will not come before the courts for at least one year.
Jack has been asked if he would voluntarily stand down. As is his right, he said no.
The buck now passes to his club with whom he has a contract and/or the NRL. Do they stand him down or will this breach his contract?
Greenberg is trying to stack up the pack of PR cards that seem to have collapsed. He has been making solemn pronouncements to tell us all that we can’t let this happen.
Role models can’t beat up people.
De Belin’s lawyers are readying their writs and summons for a dash to the Supreme Court to seek an injunction to stop anybody prohibiting Jack from carrying out his contract i.e.: playing rugby league for the Dragons.
What a schemozzle!
There is an answer which I think most sensible people (except die-hard Dragons supporters) will support.
Do not let Jack play until his case is over. Remove his contract from the salary cap.
Do not pay him his full contractual sum but a living wage until his case is finished.
When the case is over, if he is acquitted then pay him all to which he is entitled. The remaining term is then included into the cap.
From a legal point of view the club has only postponed the full terms of the contract. This solution will limit the amount of damages Jack may suffer as result of the suspension.
Now, you say, what if he is convicted?
The wording of his current contract will then apply and the club may be able to deduct money or terminate the contract for default. The club and the NRL will have been seen to act fairly. Isn’t this what we all want?