Maitland pay insurance bill
MAITLAND chairman John Thomas has reassured players and supporters the Pickers have no financial concerns after settling a $5000 insurance wrangle with the Country Rugby League yesterday.
Maitland were one of three Newcastle first-grade clubs, as well as five second-division clubs, that had been tardy in reimbursing the CRL for player insurance last season.
Frustrated by chasing the clubs for a collective tally of about $20,000, the CRL imposed a temporary suspension on the Newcastle Rugby League competition on Friday.
That move appears to have had the desired effect, as Maitland wasted no time yesterday in forwarding the overdue amount.
NRL general manager John Fahey said the other two first-grade clubs, understood to be Macquarie and Nelson Bay, would follow suit within 48 hours, and he was hopeful there would be a positive response from the second-division outfits this week.
But in an intriguing twist, Thomas said Maitland had withheld the $5000 because the Pickers were owed $400 by the CRL after successfully appealing against a contractual ruling involving prop Adam Withyman last year.
Withyman signed two contracts in the pre-season, first with Maitland then with South Newcastle, and NRL management ruled that he was entitled to play with South.
Maitland then protested successfully to the CRL but only after paying $400 for the right to appeal.
‘‘The only reason we hadn’t paid the insurance was only to expedite the payment to us,’’ Thomas said yesterday.
‘‘The CRL had not responded when we tried to contact them, so I said to our administrator, ‘Well, hold that payment, and when they contact us, ask them about our $400.’
‘‘Unfortunately, it’s turned into a situation that has caused us a little bit of grief and I suppose left a bit of egg on our face.
‘‘But I want to assure everybody that our finances are healthy. We’ve set goals this year of winning the club championship and we’re well on the way to achieving that.’’
CRL chief executive Terry Quinn said he would investigate if Maitland were entitled to have their fee refunded.
‘‘Even though they won the appeal, the appeals board may have decided to keep the $400,’’ Quinn said.
‘‘They don’t automatically get it back. I’ll check that tomorrow, and if it’s theirs to be paid, I’ll make sure it goes straight back to them.’’
Quinn said he was surprised by Thomas’s suggestion that the CRL had not replied to Maitland’s queries.
Fahey said some clubs had been confused about how much insurance they had to pay, rather than struggling to find the money.
Of the errant top-grade clubs, Fahey said: ‘‘It will all be sorted out in the next 48 hours.
‘‘It’s an effective wake-up call. The circumstances could have been better, but we’ve just got to get on with it.’’
He was confident the second-division outfits would follow suit.
‘‘That’s a bit of a different kettle of fish,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re hoping by the end of the week we’re in the same position.’’
REVERSAL: Pickers prop Adam Withyman was at the centre of a contractual wrangle last year.