BY CURTIS WOODWARD
Like sands through the hourglass, these are the rugby league contracts that didn’t quite work out. Yep, like death and taxes, it seems we can’t go a week in rugby league without a contract saga somewhere in our fair game.
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Kirk Reynoldson vs. Newcastle
Kirk ‘The Bushranger’ Reynoldson had become a fan favourite after captaining the Knights in a handful of games in the 2007 season. The forward was set to receive a $200,000 bonus when he was surprisingly dropped to reserve grade despite being captain. Knights coach Brian Smith and the club didn’t earn any friends after the move because Reynoldson was entitled to the bonus if he played another first grade game. He finished the season in reserve grade. It wasn’t the first contract saga for Reynoldson who walked out on the Melbourne Storm previously despite agreeing to a new three-year deal.
Jarryd Hayne vs. Everyone
The two-time Dally M winner and Parramatta Eels superstar shocked the nation when he announced he’d be headed to the NFL and the San Francisco 49ers. At the time, Hayne promised the Eels he’d never play for another NRL team. The Eels faithfully released him. After just one season in the NFL, Hayne left to join Fijian Sevens rugby. That lasted about three seconds and before you knew it, he was back in the NRL at the Gold Coast Titans. He has since wriggled out of that deal and is back at the Eels.
Andrew Fifita vs. Canterbury
The Tongan prop was all set to leave Cronulla for Canterbury on a whopping deal only for the Bulldogs to knock it on the head. Similar to Canterbury’s ongoing issues with Des Hasler, it seems Fifita signed a document which Fifita’s lawyers claim the Bulldogs wanted destroyed. Fifita went public with his move to Belmore which was confirmed the next day by the Bulldogs but then everything went south.
Des Hasler vs. Canterbury
The biggest mess of them all. We all know the story. Fans didn’t want Hasler re-signed. The club re-signed him. The club sacked him and said he never signed anything. Hasler says he did. Lawyer up, baby.
Gorden Tallis vs. St George
Only a man of true integrity would sit out a full season of first grade at the peak of their powers. That’s exactly what Gorden Tallis did in 1996 when he took on Brian Smith and the St George Dragons. Tallis was a young powerhouse and a favourite amongst Dragons fans until he signed with the Broncos for the ’96 season. Both sides of the Super League War were in a signing frenzy and both sides wanted Tallis. After moving back to his native Queensland he received word that Super League would not go ahead in ’96 and instead of moving back to Kogarah, stayed in Brisbane. He would make his Broncos debut in 1997.
Dennis Tutty vs. Balmain
A Balmain junior, Tutty was twice blocked by the Tigers after requesting to be put on the ‘Transfer List’. Like Tallis, Tutty sat out a full season of first grade in 1969 and commenced legal action midway through ’69. It would take two long years but Tutty would win his case against the NSWRL as the courts found it a ‘restraint of trade’ to keep players from moving to rival clubs. Tutty would return to the Tigers as a player and then a coach.
Terry Hill vs. Eastern Suburbs
Oh the dreaded draft. In 1991, Terry Hill agreed to a deal with the Western Suburbs Magpies only to see the centre “drafted” to the Roosters. Despite appeals, Hill was forced to Bondi. The draft was then abolished and the Roosters released Hill from his contract to link with Wests at Campbelltown.
Daly Cherry-Evans vs. Gold Coast
Long before Jarryd Hayne – the Titans were spruiking the news that gun Sea Eagles playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans was on his way to the club on a four-year deal. DCE even informed his Manly teammates of his departure after a loss to the Eels at Parramatta Stadium. That all changed when Manly came calling with an eight-year $10 million contract. Still within the rules of the NRL, Cherry-Evans then announced he was back flipping and staying at Brookvale.