NRL waits as Rugby Union timebomb ticks
John Chelsea

Debate rages in Rugby Union ranks this week after Stirling Mortlock goes public with frustration over Rugby Union’s poaching of Rugby League players.

The ARU has been grabbing headlines and telling anyone who cared how happy they were about snaring more Rugby League wingers. From the big raid years ago of Wendell Sailor, Lote Tiqiri and Matt Rogers – to recent raids on backs such as Timana Tahu and Clinton Schifcovske.

It seems NRL officials have made the right move by not entering into bidding wars for the wingers.

“Enough is enough,” Mortlock told a business luncheon on the eve of the Brumbies’ Super 14 derby with the Western Force .

“It’s pretty frustrating for a lot of the guys this year.

“There’s a few guys in our team who are coming off contract and being told that they’re not worth as much as they were worth last time they signed and then, in the same sentence, the ARU are looking at signing up league wingers.

“It just doesn’t make sense.” Mortlock said.

Rugby Union players certainly have the right to be angry, as they see pay cuts and reduced opportunities within their ranks – while the top end of town chases mainly high profile wingers from NRL Rugby League.

We really are only talking and wing positions and outside backs – surely the ARU has enough talent in these departments. The poaching does give the ARU valuable headlines which they don’t regularly get and does inject a household player name into stale ARU sides, but after the initial hit – the side effects must be quite concerning.

With Stirling Mortlock going public this week over ARU player anger, he is only saying what many ARU players have been feeling privately for some time. Reducing wages for the mid-tier players will only build frustration and see potential star players walk away from Union at some stage.

David Gallop and his team at the NRL are to be congratulated on their handling of the poaching. The NRL refused to buy into any bidding wars, and apart from a few clubs trying to pull togher a war chest – the NRL executives must have sensed the ARU would eventually be bitten by the snarings. The NRL also must have felt comfortable in the fact that they have such a talent pool at junior levels – that a new star is injecting into the fray.

When Lote decided not to return to League or when Timana decided to jump ship – the NRL simply unearths someone like Israel Folau, Chase Stanley or Krisnan Inu – who after only one game of NRL was able to earn a place in the star studded Kiwi Test side.

Tick….. Tick…… Tick…..Tick……Tick…..

By ricky

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