Rugby League Players Association chief executive Clint Newton says Ronald Volkman’s move to the Dragons should have been “straightforward” and his contract saga has been “completely jumbled up and botched” with no clarity around his immediate playing future.
Volkman left the Warriors at the end of 2023 despite having two years remaining on his deal to take up a 12-month contract with the Dragons.
The young half had started training with the Red V despite the club not having officially registered the contract with the NRL, with a routine medical then revealing he needed season-ending surgery on a shoulder injury.
Neither club has to pay his medical bills – rumoured to be about $50,000 – given he’s not under contract, and the situation has infuriated Newton, who says players need to be better protected.
“It’s a unique situation and it’s a pretty disappointing one as well,” Newton said on SEN 1170 Breakfast.
“This is why we held the line during the CBA (negotiations) to strengthen the terms and conditions for our members.
“When you go to work, you want to make sure you are properly protected and that those responsible for looking after you comply with their obligations.
“If they don’t, they’ll be held accountable and players aren’t always given the respect they deserve.
“The process of one player departing a club to join another should be pretty straightforward.
“Ronald’s case has been completely jumbled up and botched (and) the only person affected in this case is the player.
“No player should be left in the situation that they have to foot their own medical bills due to the fact they have sustained an injury performing their obligations to the club.
“We are hopeful for a positive outcome.”
Volkman heads into the new season without a contract and it’s led to plenty of debate as to who is ultimately responsible and whether the Dragons or Warriors should pay for his medical bills considering he did nothing wrong.
“No player should be in a position where a termination occurs and several days go past before a player has a contract registered with the NRL,” Newton said.
“Many parties have played a role in this (and) we must ensure Ronald is protected.
“I wouldn’t have thought this would be required but there needs to be further communication in the industry to ensure that this never happens again.”
Dragons coach Shane Flanagan refused to pin all the blame on the Warriors but said more needed to be done to ensure something like this never happened again.
“I’m disappointed for the young bloke because he’s going to have to have surgery,” he said from the club’s Wollongong training base last week.
“We were hoping he was going to have a big year for us, so from a selfish perspective, I’m disappointed for the club, but for Ronald, it’s shattering news for him.
“I’ll leave it to the club to sort out the other side of things.
“The facts are that he hurt himself when he was at the Warriors and he needs surgery. We just need to fill the gaps in somewhere.
“I don’t want to point fingers at clubs, but in my 20 years doing this job, I’ve never had a player fail a medical, so it’s a strange one.”
Source website: www.foxsports.com.au