Sam Woods.
Sam Woods.

Magpie Sam a man in demand

SAM Woods just wants to play footy - but a row between the Magpies and the Rhinos concerning Woods’ contract has him sitting on the sidelines.

The talented rugby league halfback - and arguably Lower Clarence Magpies’ best player in last year’s grand final victory over Northern United - was forced to sit out the first round of the NRRRL competition due to a wrangle over his existing contract.

Last week the Rhinos were of the belief that they had snared the services of Woods, pictured inset, for the 2010 season but a close look at his contract by Magpies president Ben Campbell revealed a clause stating for Woods to sign with a rival club a release fee of $1500 was required and must be paid by the Rhinos. The question being asked is - has the clause got any validity?

In a bid to shine further light on the matter the Examiner contacted Group secretary Doug Harrison, Rhinos president Tony Stackhouse, Rhinos coach Xavier Sullivan, Magpies coach Ricky Binge and Northern Regional manager Kevin Hill. This is what they had to say:

Doug Harrison

Sam Woods will definitely be staying with the Magpies; he is still under contract with them. The only way he can gain a release is if the Magpies agree to release him. It looks like the vultures are already circling.

Also if another club approaches a player under contract from a rival club they could be fined up to $2000.

Tony Stackhouse

The Rhinos have made every attempt to make sure everything is done right. I spoke to Ben Campbell and although reluctant he was prepared to give Sam a release. Doug Harrison then gave us the steps to go ahead, which we did.

We sent the application for Sam’s clearance through to Doug then on Friday he said at this point of time there will be no clearance forthcoming.

We’ve received no satisfaction from Doug Harrison and the Group so we’ve gone to the next highest authority in Regional Manager Kevin Hill.

Xavier Sullivan

It would be great to have Sam at the Rhinos, he’s a quality player. In my eyes he was the best player on the field in last year’s grand final.

Sam lives in Grafton and has a family so I can’t see why the Magpies have a problem giving him a release.

If there was a gentleman’s agreement between the coach and Sam why on earth are the group and the Magpies blocking’s ridiculous.

Ricky Binge

If Sam is keen to move on and play for the Rhinos I wish him all the best. He lives and works in Grafton so I can understand his decision. I can’t blame him for not wanting to travel two or three times a week, I’ve had to do it in the past and it’s a bit of a pain.

Sam Woods

I have no idea what’s going on...all I want to do is play footy. I approached the Rhinos to see if they were interested in signing me. I’d like a release from the Magpies, it would be more convenient. I live and work in Grafton and have a family, I also have a mortgage to pay off. I won’t be playing with anyone until everything is sorted out.

Kevin Hill

It is an unfortunate set of circumstances. Sam is currently under contract with the Magpies but obviously wants a release to play for the Rhinos. I talked to Ben Campbell and explained the legality regarding the clause in Sam’s contract. You can’t have a restrictive clause like the Magpies have in Sam’s contract. Once Ben was made aware of that I expect him to give Sam the release to play for the Rhinos.

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