Rugby league’s bizarre contract bungles


By Scott Bailey


Martin Taupau’s move from the Wests Tigers to Manly was expected, but no-one expected it to be revealed like this. A British notarial publicist, seemingly hired by the Sea Eagles to secure touring Kiwi forward Taupau’s signature, mistakenly sent the contract to Canadian theatre critic, James Kelleher Nestruck, who has a similar email address to Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly. When the critic released the details on Twitter the two clubs were left scrambling before finally confirmed the deal five hours later.


Perhaps the Sea Eagles missed the boat by not getting James Kelleher Nestruck on board earlier to review their Daly Cherry-Evans Drama. The three months of theatre before the halfback’s backflip on his Gold Coast Titans deal to sign a lifetime contract with the Sea Eagles had all the sub-plots the Canadian theatre critic is used to seeing.


In the aftermath of the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal, Greg Inglis was pretty much a done deal at Brisbane. All that was seemingly left to be done were the signatures. There was just one problem – it was raining, and Inglis told the Broncos football manager “I don’t think the planes are flying”. They were, but nonetheless Inglis put pen to paper with the Rabbitohs, called the Broncos to say he wasn’t coming and the rest is history.


What’s one way to peeve off your new bosses? Tell them your heart will always be with your former team and say you wish you signed for a different sport all together. Unfortunately for Andrew Fifita those comments meant he got his wish. The Bulldogs tore up his new contract, citing a contract dispute, Fifita threatened to take them to court and eventually stayed at the Sharks.


When Gorden Tallis signed a massive deal to head home to Queensland with Brisbane and the Super League for the 1996 season, it seemed like a dream come true. Only problem was the Federal Court blocked the competition, and everyone was forced to go back to their pre-Super League clubs. Tallis, who had packed his bags and moved to Brisbane, didn’t agree, and opted to sit out the year rather than move back to the Dragons, before finally linking with the Broncos the following year.


Tony Tuimavave was just a fringe first grader when the Super League war broke out and the breakaway competition’s CEO John Ribot headed to Auckland to sign up Kiwi stars. In a rush, Ribot got his Tonies mixed up, thought Tuimavave was the high-profile Tony Tatupu, and signed him on the big bucks. When Tatupu walked in next and Ribot offered him just $40,000, the error was realised and he was forced to chase both players out of the building to reclaim their cheques.

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