TRAVELS: XIV

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD

LAST Friday night at the Parramatta-Sydney Roosters game, I was off for something greasy and disgusting to eat when I saw a familiar face.

Not only did former Eels, Adelaide, Canterbury, South Sydney, St George Illawarra, Cronulla and Crusaders prop Adam Peek acknowledge me as he walked past but when he was finished a conversation, he intercepted me just short of the Parra Stadium kiosk.

It was just as well. The stuff they were selling in there was not appetising at all.

What Adam preceded to tell me was a story you are no doubt familiar with – about how Crusaders players are stilled owed truckloads of money and aren’t having much luck getting it.

Peek is now retired and is struggling to make ends meet as he chases the Stg50,000 he says he is still owed by the club. The GMB union is involved and he hasn’t given up.

“I went over to the UK one, for the experience, and two, to put some money aside,” Peek said. Under the image rights arrangement which has since been stopped, a portion of player’s contracts could be held for them and handed over, with tax relief, when they went home

“The first year, they club didn’t put it aside. We only found out near the end. The second year, the club got sold to North Wales. Those owners took the debt on – and they did the same thing.

“We went over there on the understanding we could do it (put away part of our income). The RFL said we could do it, they let the club continue playing.

“In 2009, April, they became aware of it. I want to know what’s going to happen. If the same thing happened in the NRL, I know for a fact the NRL would step in and say ‘we’re going to look after these players’.

“Last year there were money problems at the Gold Coast and the NRL stepped straight in. Over there, it was ‘let it go, let it go, let it go’.

“Over there, it’s all about the UK guys. The Aussies are coming in taking their jobs. There’s lots of animosity.

“I want to get my money. I have a young family. Fifty thousand pounds is a lot. “

Peek is hoping the latest overtures to the GMB will bear fruit. “We had a meeting in 2010 and I got the owner to admit … ‘there’s the deductions, Stg2900 per month, where did it go?’ and he said ‘we used it to fund the club’.

“He’s admitted it. I don’t understand how we can’t pursue the owners. And my argument is against the RFL not stepping in and going ‘hang on a second, pay the players this money, otherwise you’re out’.

“I could have gone to a different club. I want the RFL to pay the players.”

You may think the Crusaders saga is old news, as is the public donations that went to Bradford. But for men like Peek, who are struggling to support a family, it’s a very current issue indeed.

What if the NRL refused to grant clearances for British players in Australia until those burnt going in the other direction are given what they are owed?

Then we might see some movement…

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HERE’S a little whisper I’m hearing regarding the Auckland Nines which are due to kick off next season.

There has been serious discussion about Super League clubs being involved. In the past, Nines and Sevens rugby league has been used as a development tool as well as a money spinner but as it stands the Auckland tournament does nothing but rake in cash.

Some involvement from teams outside the NRL would be welcome.

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FOR the second year at Rugby League Week magazine, we’ve tried to come up with a top 20 for the most powerful people in our sport worldwide.

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