THE Grafton Ghosts may have to ‘untwine’ the benefits provided by the signing of Danny Wicks if he is proven guilty of drug trafficking, Country Rugby League CEO Terry Quinn said yesterday.
This is one of several complications involved in Mr Quinn’s pending decision on whether he should clear the former Newcastle Knights star to play for the local club.
Mr Quinn said he was ‘hitting his head against a brick wall’ over the matter and all the possible ramifications of Wicks playing for the Ghosts, considering it will set a precedent for future drug-related decisions.
Wicks quit his $200,000-a-season deal with the Knights in December after he was charged with drug trafficking and faces Newcastle Local Court on March 31.
Mr Quinn said he was awaiting letters from the National Rugby League and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) to clarify their positions on the matter after meetings last week.
The CRL had to consider two main issues in regards to Wicks, Mr Quinn said, both of which were dependent on the result of Wicks’ court case.
Firstly, if Wicks was proven guilty, the NRL would impose a mandatory four-year ban on him – a ban to be served from the time he stops playing rugby league.
In other words, if Wicks were not to play league in a kind of self-imposed ban, any enforced ban from the NRL could be reduced by the amount of time he had not played.
The second major issue, Mr Quinn said, was that if Wicks was found guilty there could be ‘repercussions for the clubs that have employed him knowing he was facing charges’.
Though he did not detail these possible consequences, he did say Wicks may have to refund his match fees or any man of the match benefits he received.
“I don’t think it would cost them points,” said Mr Quinn, but he said all these possibilities needed to be given consideration.
“At this stage, he is not guilty and I cannot assume his guilt.”
Mr Quinn said he would arrange a meeting with Wicks and the Ghosts in the next few days.
He said he was hoping to get the matter resolved swiftly and in time for this weekend’s trial match between the Ghosts and the Orara Valley Axemen at Coramba.
“No matter what I do, someone won’t agree with it.”
President of the Grafton Ghosts, Michael Rogan, said yesterday he was hoping to have Wicks play this weekend, saying the club had the support of Australian Rugby League boss, and friend of the Wicks family, Geoff Carr.
“It’s a matter of have the ‘i’s dotted and the ‘t’s crossed,” Mr Rogan said.
“We want to help Danny get on with his life ... what do we do, put him in the Simpson Desert in a tent?
“It’s a good thing that he’s back here with his parents and his mates.
“When he’s here he’s just Danny Wicks, a mate and a Ghosts junior.”
Though he would not disclose the actual amount Wicks had been signed for, Mr Rogan said suggestions of a $50 per week pay packet were not true but rather an off-the-cuff exaggeration made to media outlets earlier this year.
“There wouldn’t be many A-grade rugby league players in Australia playing for $50 a week.”
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