Stars ‘filthy’ at Gus’s autocratic order

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PENRITH star Trent Merrin says his teammates were “filthy” at general manager Phil Gould’s call to ban them from making

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Buzz Rothfield v Gus Gould

PENRITH star Trent Merrin says his teammates were “filthy” at general manager Phil Gould’s call to ban them from making an on-field protest in last Thursday’s win over Canterbury.

As the rugby league pay war continues to drag on, players across the competition had planned to wear green tape on their strips to show their solidarity with the Rugby League Players’ Association as it tries to do a deal with the NRL.

The players’ demand for a 29 per cent share of the game’s revenue has been a stumbling block in negotiations with the governing body and uncertainty over what payments are included in the salary cap have also frustrated players. Parramatta prop and RLPA board member Tim Mannah said the players wanted to wear green tape as a show of unity to force the NRL to take the RLPA seriously, something the Eels star says it hasn’t done in the past.

But Gould reportedly forbid the Panthers from wearing green tape, a decision that angered the club’s stars when it was handed down on Thursday.

“Obviously everyone wasn’t happy with us not jumping on board with it but it happened on game day so we didn’t really want to muck around too much with everything on game day,” Merrin said on Sky Sports radio’s

Big Sports Breakfast

.

“It was a pretty tough call. A lot of the players were pretty filthy about it but that’s out of our hands, that’s something we can’t control.”

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Anthony Griffin and Phil Gould watch on during the Penrith Panthers training session. Source: News Corp Australia

Merrin said while the players weren’t impressed with Gould’s decision, they still respected his right to make the ruling and were intent on sticking solid with the RLPA.

“It hasn’t caused any friction, we’re as solid as it comes when it comes to our negotiations but when it comes to club uniform that’s out of our hands,” Merrin said.

“It’s Gus’s call and we respect that but there’s no backward step on our behalf as the players, we’re still full throttle with our rights and where we see it (the pay negotiations) going.

“It’s just a bit of a hiccup there but like I said there’s no backward steps from the Panthers as a playing group in that area.”

Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was another NRL figure to shut down any attempted protest before his side’s game against Parramatta on the weekend.

“I have an issue with that. We’re a rugby league team here,” Bennett said. “If the players have got issues with the game, that’s fine — they can do that in negotiations.

“We go out and we represent the club here and the club is not going to condone that kind of behaviour.

“The fans want to watch them play football, they want them dressed properly in their playing gear. That’s the image of the club and that’s what I’ll uphold every day of the week.”

SOWARD’S WARNING FOR UNDER-FIRE TITANS

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Ash Taylor is a hot property right now. Source: AAP

Former NSW five-eighth Jamie Soward is adamant Gold Coast can’t let Wayne Bennett get his way when it comes to poaching Titans halfback Ash Taylor.

The gun 22-year-old playmaker is off contract at the end of 2018 and Bennett revealed he would be interested in luring Taylor back to the Broncos, the club he left in 2015 to pursue greater opportunities.

Taylor was stuck behind Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford in the halves queue, but Hunt’s departure to St George in 2018 has left the door ajar for his return to Brisbane should he want to link up with the master-coach once more.

Soward says the Titans need to do whatever it takes to hold onto Taylor, who they recruited after Manly No. 7 Daly Cherry-Evans reneged on a deal to play on the Gold Coast.

“They missed out on Daly Cherry-Evans and they get Ash Taylor. If you don’t sign Ash Taylor and you let him get away from your club for whatever reason, then it’s gone — change of administration, change everything,” Soward said on Triple M’s

Dead Set Legends

.

“Ash Taylor is the best halfback under 25 coming up in the NRL.”

The Broncos signed pivot Milford to a four-year, $4 million deal in 2017 and Soward believes that, combined with the pay packets of other high-profile players in Brisbane, will make it tough to attract Taylor. But the 32-year-old says the Titans first receiver may be willing to take a pay cut to play under Bennett.

“It’s not too often Wayne Bennett wants a player and doesn’t get him. You’ll take less money to be involved in Wayne Bennett’s system,” Soward said.

“He (Taylor) could easily command upward of $800,000 or $900,000 and the Broncos won’t be able to fit that in the cap unless it’s third party. They’ve already got Milford there who’s on a million (dollars a season), they’ve got Darius Boyd on $800,000, James Roberts, Matt Gillett. All these guys are rep players and they’d be on a big salary.”

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