Wests Tigers chief executive Grant Mayer warned the NRL that unless his club is compensated for developing junior players who then go on to play for other clubs, they will forgo grassroots development and join the ranks of ‘‘cheque-book’’ administrators and buy a team.
He expressed frustration amid speculation that Canterbury were trying to recruit boom fullback James Tedesco, one of eight local players named in the Wests Tigers’ squad for Friday’s Souths clash.
His resolve for action was galvanised by the statistic that showed a team’s roster worth of Wests Tigers juniors were playing first grade in rival colours.
Mayer said he’d expressed his concern to the NRL and that he had the support of St George Illawarra and Canberra, who were also in a similar situation.
‘‘We’re shouting [the need for a club to be compensated for developing a junior who signs with another club] from the rooftops,’’ Mayer told Fairfax Media.
‘‘We have 24 players currently playing for other clubs and what do we get for that? Nothing.
‘‘We’re going to push very hard ... reward the clubs that develop [their own] or we’re out. We’ll stop developing club players and become a cheque-book club.
‘‘It’s a very clear threat, too. It’s a joke that we continue to develop players for other clubs.
‘‘I’ve spoken to Canberra and St George Illawarra about it and we’re very keen to walk in to the NRL as a group of clubs and say, ‘It’s not good enough that we’re being penalised for developing players when we lose them’.’’
Mayer said that junior players underpinned Wests Tigers teams.
He said the latest step of the club’s bred-not-bought focus was retaining Tedesco [Camden junior], David Nofoaluma [Campbelltown] and Curtis Sironen [Dundas/North Ryde].
‘‘You can look at what we have done since I started – we retained Aaron Woods, Luke Brooks, Mitchell Moses [and] Tim Simona,’’ he said.
‘‘We retained guys like Manaia Cherrington and Delouise Hoeter at a younger level. We’re ticking one box at a time then you have guys like Robbie Farah and Chris Lawrence still there... there’s a few missing parts of the puzzle, David Nofoaluma, James Tedesco [and Sironen]. If we do that we have the core for our future and we’re very open about that.
‘‘Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some... [that’s] the way negotiations go.
‘‘I realise that we’ve made mistakes but Tedesco, Nofoaluma and Sironen – they’re our kids yet we’re competing to keep them and it doesn’t seem right.’’
Mayer said he understood clubs would always fight for talent such as Tedesco but he said it ought to be a concern that it was always the same teams named in speculation.
‘‘It doesn’t worry me that it was speculated Canterbury are chasing him - that’s competition.
‘‘At the end of the day I’ve been very happy to hear James has said himself he wants to stay.
‘‘He’s been very clear he wants to stay with his mates and that’s great. I’m very excited about that. ‘‘The kid has an opportunity to make the most of his career. We are in negotiations.
‘‘We’re very hopeful and we’d like to think he wants to stay at the Tigers,’’ he said.