In one of the most long awaited and at times murky deals in recent rugby league history, David Klemmer has signed a lucrative zillion dollar deal with the Knights and Dylan Napa has joined the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on a three year deal.
There appeared to be a rather false impression of secrecy and subterfuge that developed around the entire saga. For the clubs involved, it was never the intention or a requirement that the negotiations be kept a dirty secret, it was more a case of all parties looking for contentment with their net result from the exchange.
The Roosters undoubtedly needed a little more wriggle room under the cap for upcoming seasons, the Knights wanted their man and the Bulldogs were not going to let Klemmer loose until they were happy with the terms of the deal.
Sadly, the media take a completely different approach to such situations and a hotbed of rumour and innuendo had the journos in a lather over the last month. The Daily Telegraph was particularly noticeable in its orgasmic excitement, potentially deflecting attention away from some of the issues that lay nearer the hearts of certain employees.
In essence, it became something of a farce. However, in all the calls I made to the Canterbury and Newcastle representatives with a role to play in the negotiations, there was never anything but professionalism and due process on their minds.
As the general public lamented the loss of meaning associated with a modern day contract, club loyalty was questioned and the inevitable and hypothetical family reasons behind Klemmer’s decision were irresponsibly presented, the root causes behind the entire situation became somewhat blurred.
Money, family, salary cap ramifications and a fracturing of trust were all incorrectly flung about recklessly in the media. Whilst all serious considerations in modern football, none were the catalyst for the drama that has unfolded over the last four weeks.
In truth, the Bulldog and New South Wales champion had a set of issues that developed with his former manager and the signing of a new four year deal complicated that situation. Despite the best efforts of the club and the manager in question, Klemmer remained frustrated with a situation to which he saw no solution other than a severing of ties with the club he once loved and bled for.
Social media exploded today with the news of the deal finally made public and both players are now able to settle into their new digs. Some of the online vitriol as been unfair to all parties. Many Bulldog fans have vented fury at Klemmer for leaving the place to which he committed publicly some years back, whilst others are happy to farewell a person they perceive to be a traitor.
More alarming has been some of the doomsday predictions for Napa upon his arrival at the club. If ever a player deserved a fair chance it is the 26 year old. Not only will he now need to adjust to a new club and culture, he will face the considerable passion of the Bulldogs’ faithful; some of whom, will dislike him right from the start.
In reality, any assessments of either player are doomed to be unfair. The realities of modern professional sport have once again created a murky and distasteful tale that will be repeated no doubt, time and time again. The toll on the actual people involved is disrespectful and destructive.
David Klemmer is a good man, yet somewhat confused by contractual and professional dilemmas that have been sadly interpreted as a slight on his credibility. Dylan Napa is a respected representative player to whom the Roosters were happy to wave goodbye and cut adrift.
Whatever your take on the situation, I can assure you that much of it is nonsense, some of it is lies and part of it is disturbingly biased. Truth be told, this was business. Ugly, professional sporting business yes, but still business.
The Knights will be chuffed with their new signing and the Roosters will no doubt have a big announcement in the next 18 months off the back of the money they have saved by releasing Napa.
The Dogs stand to be the big losers unless they are able to move forward. David Klemmer is gone, likely never to return. Dylan Napa is a Bulldog.
Rather than lament the past, it might be time for the Bulldog fans to realise that the new signing’s middle name is Hercules and the Bulldogs could use a bit of that strength in 2019.