RLPA chief calls for sanctions after Dragons ‘botched’ signing leaves Volkman high and dry


Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) boss Clint Newton has called for the Ronald Volkman saga to be a line-in-the-sand moment, adamant contracting processes must be properly followed.

Volkman remains without a deal or certainty around the state of his shoulder surgery, after a one-year offer from St George Illawarra was pulled earlier this month.

Released by the Warriors in late December to head to the Dragons, the playmaker was judged by medical staff in Wollongong to require surgery after scans showed loose screws from a previous shoulder injury.

The situation has prompted a lengthy blame game, with St George Illawarra questioning why their medical report conflicted with a Warriors one that noted shoulder irritation.

In turn, the Kiwi club are adamant that their medical report was accurate, accusing the Dragons of not completing due diligence on prior injuries.

Complicating the matter further is that Volkman’s Dragons medical was completed at club training, while no contract was yet registered with the NRL.

That has led to concerns that Volkman will not be insured for his surgery and he could face a lengthy wait time in the process.

Newton is furious that Volkman took to the field at the Dragons while not registered with the NRL, and has also questioned the gap between his Warriors termination and Dragons contract.

“A player shouldn’t 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 on SEN.

“The process of one player departing a club to join another should be pretty straightforward.

“The player is given permission to talk to other clubs. 

“A medical takes place and then your termination occurs pretty quickly before your contract is then registered with the new club.

“Ronald’s case has been completely jumbled up and botched really. And the only person affected in this case is the player.”

Newton wants heavy sanctions handed out to any party found to have committed wrongdoing.

His other fear is this situation is not a one off, and other players are released early and enter new clubs without insurance.

It comes after last year’s protracted collective bargaining agreement negotiations, where the RLPA were adamant uncontracted players should not train with clubs to protect them.

“I wouldn’t have thought this would be required but it seems as though there needs to be further communication in the industry to minimise the chance of this ever happening again,” Newton said.

“When you go to work, you want to know you are properly protected and that those responsible for looking after you will comply with their obligations.

“And if they don’t, they’ll be held accountable.”

Dragons coach Shane Flanagan last week conceded he regretted Volkman doing the medical examination at training.

But he said he had never seen a player fail a medical report in 20 years, and noted that Volkman’s “strength was down about 60 per cent” when he arrived.

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