Saints centreÂ Mark Gasnier hasn’t deniedÂ he isÂ looking atÂ walking away from the Dragons to play Union in France as club CEO Peter DoustÂ explained the captain has a clause in his 5 year deal allowing him to leave whenever he wants.
Dragons fans and NRL fans alike are simply astounded with the fact that the Saints have allowed a simple ‘get out of jail free’ clause to be added to Gasiners contract. While pressure has been telling on outgoing coach Nathan Brown, surely if Gasnier walks away – CEO Peter Doubst must unquestionably fall on his sword for allowing such an agreement to be struck in the first place.
As it stands, Mark Gasnier is one of only a few Dragons players to be performing well consistently and let him go would simply be madness and could thrust the club into further disarray.
Gasnier has a chance toÂ change codes and link up with mate Craig GowerÂ in France at the end of this NRL year, and with a FrenchÂ girlfriend, Gasnier is said to be realistically thinking about quitting the NRL and exervising theÂ get-out clause in his $600,000 a year deal.
Doust naturally is doing all he can to keep the top line centre at Kogarah, and he feels new coach Wayne Bennett would be an advantage to bring into discussions, butÂ agreed it is true thatÂ Gasnier does have an additional escape clause in his deal.
The news that Gasnier has this clause, is set to see parties from around the Rugby League and Union world chase the hot stars signature, given that the world’s richest Rugby League club Wigan has it’s top dog, Ian Lenegan, in Sydney chasing stars at present.
â€œDon’t put it as in I’m trying to get out of my contract,â€ said Gasnier.
â€œI’ve been confronted with a situation that I’ve had to react to and I’m doing it in my best interests. I’ve explored options (in France). Something has happened and I’ve gone and looked.â€
GasnierÂ didnt want to say which club has spoken with him,Â the prominent centre not wanting this situaiton to turn into a media feeding frenzy over where he would end up. He also said no time frames can be given over how long it will take to make a call on his future.
â€œI know it’s going to cause speculation but I can’t,â€ he said.
â€œI’m not going to go and say the exact situation and make a whole circus of the thing because I don’t want it to be a deja vu of what happened two years ago.
â€œI don’t think it’s fair on the club and not fair on everyone.
â€œI’m not one to pinpoint names or whatever it is. There’s definitely no ill feeling between the club and I and I want the fans to understand that.
â€œIn a perfect world it would have been resolved and never would have come out.â€
Doust was â€œstunnedâ€ that Gasnier could soon quit the struggling club, but agreed he was the one who setup the deal with manager George Mimis which handed the power to the player.
Given the current situation at the Dragons and years of poor results, the talented Gasnier would be not only frustrated at the continually poor form of the team – but also the uncertainty next year holds, with a changing of the guard set to see players and officials walked out the door at Kogarah.
â€œThere is a clause in his contract which enables him to make decisions on a yearly basis about the subsequent terms of the contract, terms in years,â€ said Doust.
â€œThat is there for a reason I’m not prepared to comment about. It’s a long term contract, five years is a long time to sign a contract.
â€œI have not spoken to next year’s coach (Bennett) about it, but I’m sure it is something he would be interested in.
â€œGaz is contracted until 2011 and I’ll be doing the best I can to see him fulfil that contract. We want him to be here and be a Dragons man.â€
The news of Gasnier’s possible departure comes on the eve of the Dragons presenting dual international Wendell Sailor as a new signing after his two year suspension for testing positive to cocaine expires.
Doust also confirmed his club had pulled out of the race for former captain Trent Barrett, who will be granted a release from Wigan, but with Gasnier possibly leaving the chief executive could have a whole lot more money to spend in 2009.