The Wallabies have been forced to release two players to European clubs while they remained contracted to the ARU.
Michael Cheika has launched a scathing attack on agents, after the Australian Rugby Union were forced to release Greg Holmes and Liam Gill from their contracts, despite the fact that their deals did not expire until after the Rugby Championship.
Cheika told Australia’s Daily Telegraph that he wanted both players to remain in the Australian set up for the duration of the Rugby Championship, ‘but they pretty much declined to come in because they are in awkward situations’.
An angry Cheika went so far as to claim Toulon were not even aware of the fact that Gill’s contract did not expire until December 31.
Not only that, but the Australian coach told the Telegraph that one agent had threatened legal action if his client was not granted an early release, and players have ‘suffered personal’ distress as a result of such contractual wrangling.
Consequently Cheika questioned whether or not agents take the ‘ARU seriously’, but stressed such a situation ‘won’t happen again’.
The ARU’s general manager of high performance, Ben Whitaker, took a similar tone, claiming that both Holmes and Gill had been ‘mislead and misrepresented’.
If a contract runs until 31 December and any agent gets a player to sign a contract which commences on 1 August, he is forcing his client to breach his standard player contract.
There’s a responsibility that agents represent the best interest of their clients, however any breach of player agent regulations is putting players at risks of fines and sanctions, which is of great concern for the game.
Although the ARU do grant early releases to players not involved in the national set up, both Gill and Holmes have been included in the Wallabies squad for some time.
Indeed, while Australia do release players who are considered to be of ‘national interest’ early, they only do so after the third Bledisloe Cup match in October, and only if the player in question has been part of the Australia set up for seven years.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena