If people believed every word that has been written about the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs over the past few weeks, they might need a good lie down.
As if the tumultuous start to the season wasn’t enough, now the post season has become a rather farcical exercise in inaccuracy and innuendo. Much of the discussion has centred around David Klemmer and his apparent decision to pack up his tent and head to Newcastle. Many fans found this unthinkable, unbelievable and offensive; considering Klemmer’s status at the club and his quality.
Some asked how the club, after off-loading Aaron Woods, Moses Mbye, Greg Eastwood and the Morris twins, had failed to lock in the pillars on which it would build it’s 2019 season. The general consensus was that if there were three players deemed vital to the success of the club next year, they were Klemmer himself, Lachlan Lewis and captain Josh Jackson.
It appeared to many that the jettisoning of players had the sole intention of freeing up financial space to maintain the core group. Then gradually, as the books were brought back to order after the abuse they had received at the hands of previous administrators, further players would be added and with any luck, the Bulldogs would be a force within three years.
This scenario appeared to be playing out as expected as Rhyse Martin extended his contracted and the club acquired the new signatures of promising Newcastle youngsters Jack Cogger and Nick Meaney as well as Christian Crichton, Sauaso Sue and Corey Harawira-Naera. The fans were somewhat pleased, with the pending returns of Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Kieran Foran also bolstering hopes.
Then, from seemingly nowhere, rumours of Klemmer’s departure began. Depending on which paper or website you read, the reasons varied. However, the most common line of thinking appeared to be that the Origin forward was being considerably underpaid. This is categorically untrue and the figures around the $400,000 mark are way off.
The loss of sponsors and third party corporate deals was thrown into the mix as potential reasons for Klemmer’s sudden change of heart. I can assure you that David Klemmer’s contract was not heavily reliant on gluten free deserts and even though two significant sponsorship arrangements ended, new partners were to come on board.
Andrew Hill briskly made the announcement that Ultimate Security would be the new back of jersey sponsor for the next three years and it was interesting how one company was able to see beyond the media fuelled witch hunt that followed the mad Monday celebrations. It was reflective of much of the gossip that surrounded ‘Klemmer-gate’, as rumours of his family situation were then shopped about as reasons for his pending departure.
Whilst it may have been convenient for and typical of certain media outlets to taint the Dogs with sordid nonsense suggesting significant family factors were at play, the front-rowers Father Helmut, categorically set the record straight. It appears likely, that there are some issues behind the decision, but they are personal and Klemmer’s alone.
No doubt, close friend Aaron Woods felt harshly treated by the club and made those feeling known to Klemmer and Moses Mbye was less than glowing in his assessment of his old club soon after his arrival at the Tigers. This potentially alludes to some restless sentiment amongst the playing group early in the season; sentiment borne of the poor decisions made by the previous coach and Board and sentiment that may have planted the seed of doubt in the representative forwards mind.
Thankfully, the playing group is now as tight as it has been for some time and all bodes well for the upcoming season, with or without Klemmer.
As hard as some may try to find complex and internal reasons for one of the biggest moves of the off-season, the answers lie solely with the player. It is another example of the meaninglessness of a contract and the leverage of player managers. In essence, any player can now leave as they please and will do so if they fall from favour or suffer a lack of motivation.
The truth of the matter is that David Klemmer will be unexpectedly heading off to Newcastle and Canterbury has attempted to stand its ground; seeking compensation and a mutually beneficial agreement. The club would be in dereliction of duty were it not to.
Much of the nonsense written about the club in the last few weeks should feature, not in the frozen desert section occupied by a previous sponsor, but somewhere amidst the hundreds of rolls of toilet paper in isle 13. Put bluntly, David Klemmer wants to break his contract and play in Newcastle and perhaps the Bulldogs should just wave goodbye.