Harrison: Clubs are scared to sign marquees

Leading player agent Craig Harrison says Super League cubs are “scared” to make marquee signings.

Only three clubs had marquee players last year, Love Rugby League understands, with Chris Sandow at Warrington, Frank Pritchard at Hull FC and Sam Tomkins at Wigan.

Both Pritchard and Sandow have now returned to Australia.

Harrison, who manages the likes of Luke Gale and Zak Hardaker, said the clubs are scared to sign these types of players and then terrified to admit it.
“They’re all scared to pull the trigger, so they’re all scared to admit when they did it, which I found fascinating,” he told Love Rugby League.

“They were terrified that the other players would be knocking on the door, which is just unbelievable because I think if they’d made it more transparent more people would have come out [to Super League].

“Then you can actually come out and say listen we can have a marquee signing for every club and it hasn’t worked because our game’s at a real, not negative, but it’s a thing where they’re scared to death of change.

“They’re scared to death of star player, we’re terrified of a star player, we havent seen another Ellery Hanley.

“I really believe that we’re very limited to someone that’s different to others or someone that can be developed.

“A marquee should be a legend with people coming from everywhere to watch him. I didn’t see that at all, i didn’t see that with the signings.”

The marquee ruling was brought in last year after urging from Super League clubs, but few have used it.

The rise of the NRL salary cap and the drop in value of the pound has also not helped.

“If they bring Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, then maybe I could see it,” Harrison said.

“But it would have to be a star player and I say the clubs would have to be more transparent about bringing somebody over and not be terrified of all the rest of the lads knocking on the door asking can I have a 50 grand rise because you’ve brought him in, I think I’m better than him.

“Hence why you’ve got to make that player good because the lads won’t do it if he’s that good.

“I think it only works if we bring the Greg Inglis’ over, then there’s no qualms.”

The end of 2016 saw a number of high-profile players controversially walk out on their contracts. James Segeyaro and Chris Sandow departed, while Denny Solomona make a cross-code switch to Sale that is now subject to a legal battle.

Harrison, who previously owned Doncaster rugby league club, said players from down under must be recruited to Super League for the “right reasons”.

“We’ve created a market where if they do come over here they don’t come for the right reasons anymore,” he said.

“When I saw Ali Lauitiiti at Leeds all those years ago was when I first started watching it and they come for the right reasons.

“He come over here, I think he’d had a bad time over there and he wanted to create a life. Kylie Leuluai, they’ve created their lives, that’s not going to happen again.

“They’re only coming to be in the shop window so the sooner we get used to it, or we don’t allow it or we say – listen this is short-term gain/long-term loss, can we allow someone to do that.

“If they come for the right reasons… I can’t see with the salary cap as it is why would anybody in their prime would come to England to play.

“It’s not going to happen again, the days of seeing ‘Stirlo’ and all the legends like that have just gone forever. That won’t change unless we remove our cap.”


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