RUGBY LEAGUE: £1.25m deal for Wigan's wing
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Friday 28 April 1995
BY DAVE HADFIELD
The Wigan winger Jason Robinson, declared fit to play in the Silk Cut Challenge Cup final, is joining the Australian Rugby League and could be followed by tomorrow's Wembley captain, Shaun Edwards.
Robinson has signed a £1.25m, four-year deal, which will start when his Wigan contract runs out in 1997. Even more damaging to Wigan and the Rupert Murdoch-sponsored European Super League is the likelihood that Edwards, annoyed at not being offered a loyalty contract like many of his team- mates, might take the same route.
Robinson's contract is the biggest ever promised to a British player and a sure sign of the galloping inflation that is now playing havoc with the game. There are potential drawbacks, however, because the deal is with the ARL rather than an individual club and players will go into a central pool from which they will be allocated.
Robinson, a 20-year-old signed by Wigan from youth rugby in Leeds, was in negotiation with South Sydney before the Super League furore upped the ante. That link might carry over into his new deal.
Edwards, who confirmed an approach from the ARL yesterday, said: "I am confused and upset, having read of and knowing of other players who have received loyalty bonuses for staying with the English Rugby League.
"As Wigan and Great Britain captain, I consider myself to have been the most loyal player to both club and country over the last few years. It seems funny that other people cannot recognise my loyalty and it has given me no choice but to consider a move to Australia."
Edwards is 28 and that might militate against him, but his potential defection would be a major blow to the Super League, outweighing the news that John Devereux is to stay with Widnes, and the timing of the revelation on the eve of Wembley is doubly unfortunate for Wigan.
Their opponents, Leeds, have their own concerns over the future plans of Ellery Hanley, Alan Tait and Craig Innes, but they hope to set those worries aside until after the final.
The Super League also seems set to make compromises to try to make the plan more palatable to clubs and individuals who have attacked it as unfair. A special meeting of clubs in Huddersfield on Sunday will discuss modifications, including a likely increase from 14 to 18 clubs.
That could open the way for clubs like Huddersfield, Castleford and Featherstone, all of whom believe they have a claim for inclusion, as well as Cardiff, currently destined for the feeder league below, and the new Second Division champions, Keighley, whose legal action against the League is due to start in Leeds today. MPs have also criticised the Murdoch deal and the Minister for Sport, Iain Sproat, has called for an inquiry.
"We have been listening carefully to what the game's supporters have had to say and we are mindful of their concerns and the long-standing traditions of the game," the Rugby League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay said.
Lindsay and the League's chairman, Rodney Walker, are under pressure from all sides, although both have denied any intention to lead a breakaway from the governing body.
To increase the Super League to 18 would get some clubs off their backs, but it would destroy one of the positive aspects of the proposal - a reduction in the size of the top division and the number of games expected of leading players.
If the ARL continue to make inroads, there may be fewer leading players to worry about.
The essential Hanley, page 38
Latest in Sport
Paul Scholes: Manchester City paid the price for not dealing with Barcelona's Sergio Busquets
Arsenal vs Monaco: Theo Walcott 'involved in spat' with fans after Champions League defeat
It's time to stop the 'small club' jibes after Chelsea signed £200m Yokohama deal
Paul Scholes: Jose Mourinho's attempt to influence football's decision-makers is not working. In fact, it may have backfired
After record-breaking £5.136bn Premier League TV deal, why are Everton the only British club to win in Europe?
- 1 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 2 Husband and wife die holding hands within hours of each other after 67 years of marriage
- 3 What color is The Dress, white and gold or blue and black? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
- 5 Fearne Cotton quits Radio 1 after ten years for 'family and new adventures'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
Half of Ukip voters say they are prejudiced against people of other races
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Aqsa Mahmood branded a 'disgrace' by her parents after claims she recruited three UK girls flying to Middle East
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...
£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...