Player-managers – I didn’t have a great deal to do with them during my 32 years as a rugby league writer.
I certainly didn’t rely on them as much as some writers.
The ranks of player-managers have sky rocketed since the Super League War of 1995, and that is only to be expected, given young men have gone from being part-time footballers to full time pros.
But some people saw this as a chance to make money from the game, rather than having the pure motive of helping young men find their way in life.
So it is good to see that agents have had to sign beefed-up contracts, giving the NRL power to access all records, including confiscating mobile phones and computers, if managers are suspected of salary cap rorting. Naturally, there are many people who believe this is an unnecessary invasion of privacy.
But, I suppose, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
I’m not going into detail about my dealings with player-managers, or give a list of those I held in the highest regard, except to mention, Steve ‘Chimes’ Gillis, simply because he was a former News Ltd journalistic colleague of mine.
When I was in Sydney, I would have a beer with him at the Shakespeare Hotel, Surrey Hills, and he was always great company.
He was one journalist the players loved, and it was a natural progression for him to then look after their interests.
The first time I saw him during the Super League War was just before an Australian Rugby League Press Conference, at which the ARL paraded prominent loyal players, including Brad Fittler, Terry Hill, Geoff Toovey, Mark Carroll, Steve Menzies, Tim Brasher and Matt Seers.
But the centre of attention was 18-year-old Cronulla prop, Adam Ritson, who was managed by Gillis.
Ritson had turned his back on a Super League contract, despite Cronulla pledging their allegiance to the News Ltd backed rebel competition.
He was the ARL’S golden boy, and his decision to remain loyal was the first roadblock Super League encountered. Ritson was the only Cronulla player who insisted on speaking to his manager, before signing a binding contract.
“In retrospect,” SL chief, John Ribot told journalist, Mike Colman, “We should have paid the managers.”
Photo: Adam Ritson (left) playing for Australian Schoolboys against the British Amateurs in 1993. That’s Anthony Mundine in the background.