TRAVELS: IV

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD

SO, has Gareth Hock been disloyal – or merely acted like a professional in a professional sport?

Wigan’s media release regarding the England back rower’s departure to Widnes makes for compelling reading. I can’t remember a club ever being as scathing in a media statement about a player who has left , although I am sure it has happened before.

Here are the facts, as we know them: Wigan kept a place for Hock when he was suspended for two years on drugs charges, even getting permission for him to train with them at the back end of his ban.

Despite being under contract for 2013, Hock negotiated with Parramatta for a move to the NRL. When this fell through, he lost his top-13 squad number at Wigan.

According to the release, “Following Hock’s demands for more money in mid-season, insistence at short notice in October on a move to Australia and discussions instigated by the player in December around his request to move to another Super League club, Gareth Hock refused completely after Christmas to return to rehabilitation and pre-season training at Wigan.”

Club chairman Ian Lenegan also says the club voluntarily increased his wages twice since his return from suspension.

For his part, Hock has only said “things happened at Wigan”.

(NB: Since this column was filed, Hock told The Sun: “Some of it is true but I’m disappointed and surprised they have said  it.

“I don’t know where the bit about refusing to do rehab has come from, as Wigan  sent me a program on email.

“I appreciate everything they hae done for sticking by me but things have  happened and it’s time to move on.”)

This seems to be a symptom of the same modern malaise that begot the Sonny Bill Williams fiasco. Players are increasingly becoming rock stars who can do as they please as long as they play well and secure results.

Even coaches are at the mercy of militant players who can simply ignore contracts and team protocol and have their gaffer sacked with enough support from team-mates.

This trend will reach a tipping point – and eventually we will all realise that enough is enough.

The fact that Hock will have to sit out games against Wigan is ridiculous. He should be sitting out the entire season – and the entire length of his Wigan contract. He should be given the opportunity to honour his agreement or go back to whatever it was he was up to when banned from playing rugby league.

If I am unhappy at work, I can ask for more money or I can ask to leave. But my boss can demand I honour my contract – that’s what contracts are for.

And what if I had been unable to work for two years yet my boss kept my job open for me? And I demanded pay rises when I came back, and got them? And I STILL refused to show up for work, when I was unable to do my job properly due to injury anyway?

What would you do? Disloyal is being kind…

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CONGRATS to Super League for securing Tetleys at the Challenge Cup sponsor, and for putting the League Of The Extraordinary commercial on terrestrial television over the coming weeks.

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