Ben Cross pictured at the Broncos first training session at Purtell Park, Brisbane 3rd of December 2018. (AAP Image/Josh Woning)
Ben Cross pictured at the Broncos first training session at Purtell Park, Brisbane 3rd of December 2018. (AAP Image/Josh Woning)

Ex-Origin prop begins legal action against Broncos

An ex-NSW State of Origin star has launched legal action against his former employee, the Brisbane Broncos.

Ben Cross - who represented NSW twice in 2008 - issued an unfair dismissal letter to Broncos management last Friday.

Cross, represented by Robert Lamb, a director at Brisbane-based Hillhouse Legal Partners, told The Daily Telegraph he has been left feeling "embarrassed, awful and insulted".

The former NRL front-rower was a Broncos assistant coach this year - along with Peter Gentle and Kurt Richards - with his role centring around the middle forwards, defence and contact.

Cross, 41, became the only assistant coach stood down before COVID and claimed Gentle and Richards were only asked to accept a pay cut or take annual leave - an opportunity not offered to Cross.

 

Cross worked as a defensive coach for Brisbane. AAP Image/Josh Woning.
Cross worked as a defensive coach for Brisbane. AAP Image/Josh Woning.

He will allege former Brisbane forward Peter Ryan has now joined Brisbane's coaching staff and assumed parts of his former role.

"It was just wrong - it's just not how you should treat people, especially under these circumstances," Cross said. "I'm disappointed by the Broncos, how it all came about. I was shocked. It was poor management and poor leadership.

"It's just absolutely awful. Not to have gotten a phone call from anyone at the club, that this was coming out, it's just embarrassing.

"I didn't take it lightly. I rang around and got enough insight from people who have been around the game for long enough and now the right legal action. There is more than enough grounds to pursue it.

"I have spoken to a number of other coaches in the NRL and they were quite dumbfounded and found it hard to believe I wasn't brought back on after the hiatus and wasn't offered JobKeeper or stood down without pay or even offered to take a 50 per cent pay cut.

"None of it was afforded to me or offered to me. It was just a straight redundancy straight away. So what we are legally going for is an improper redundancy or unfair dismissal; that Brisbane used COVID-19 to enforce a redundancy.

"Since then, they have hired Peter Ryan, who they classify as a specialist skills coach but without a shadow of a doubt he is there doing defence work. He is not there doing anything else other than defensive work, which was a main part of my role.

"He (Ryan) even did an interview on Fox Sports last week talking about the defence work he had been doing, even posting stuff on LinkedIn that he had been doing defensive work, which was essentially part of my role.

Cross has launched legal action against the Broncos. Picture by Peter Wallis.
Cross has launched legal action against the Broncos. Picture by Peter Wallis.

 

"How long had this been going on for? That was the insulting part. Rightly so, I should have been called first. That is the legal action we are taking, unfair dismissal or improper redundancy to the letter of the law. I've got nothing against Peter Ryan."

The Broncos declined to comment on Tuesday but have indicated they believe they are on safe ground because Ryan is only in a consultancy role while Cross was employed full time.

Brisbane won their first two games this season while Cross was on staff yet have lost the following four matches since his departure.

"The proof is in the pudding," Cross said.

Cross represented NSW in two games during 2008 under then Blues coach Craig Bellamy. He played for City Origin in 2007 and 2008 and two NRL grand finals for Melbourne Storm.

He played 140 first grade games for Newcastle, Canberra and Melbourne along with English clubs Leeds, Wigan and Widnes. Cross was also named in a preliminary 46-man Kangaroos squad for the 2008 World Cup.

Weighing 112kg and standing 191cm, Cross came off the Melbourne bench in the 2006 grand final against Brisbane and was part of the Storm side which defeated Manly in the 2007 grand final, a title which later stripped through salary cap rorting.

Originally published as Ex-Origin prop begins legal action against Broncos



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