Off the Wall

Just when we thought we could celebrate Christmas without another rugby league controversy Paul Gallen decided the time was right to try and dump the Sharks and shop around for another club.

There is nothing unusual about that - except for the fact he is contracted to the Sharks until 2012! And to make matters worse, it now appears the reputed "Porn King" Con Ange is helping his with his club shopping!

To make matters worse - at least for Brisbane fans - the Brisbane Broncos have expressed an interest in signing up Gallen.

You have to ask what Brisbane/Gold Coast fans have done to deserve this? The Titans sign up another Sharks problem Greg Bird, and now the Broncos want his team mate who has a very ordinary behaviour record on and off the field.

Is there is a desire to match the signing of Brendan Fevola by the Brisbane Lions and Karmichael Hunt by the new Gold Coast AFL team? But there is a more important issue arising from Gallen's shopping expedition, aided by the infamous Con Ange!

What is an NRL contract worth?

Clubs dump contracted players, and coaches, at will - and do so with and without good reason.

Paul Gallen obviously believes that if the Sharks reserve the right to end player contracts, he has the right to do so as well.

The practice of contracted players "shopping around" long before their existing contracts end has become increasingly common. Just has the practice of clubs dumping players mid-contract.

The Sharks have signalled they won't let Gallen break his contract. But if he is not happy with the club, what is the point in forcing him to stay for another THREE seasons at a club he wants to leave?

What has happened is that players have been blatantly using their managers to not only talk up their value - by suggesting they are considering lucrative offers from rugby union, and even the AFL - but to put pressure via the media on their existing clubs to release them because they are "unhappy".

In the case of Gallen he is unhappy for being fined by the club for urinating in public. Is that alone justification for breaking a lucrative contract which still has three years to run?

The answer is probably not, but you have to concede that the ease with which clubs sack contracted players - and coaches - has contributed as much to a weakening in the contract system as players, and their managers, wanting to break contracts has!

Gallen will probably be stuck with the Sharks - and the Sharks with Gallen. But you have to ask whether that is the best outcome for both parties?