Doust stumped by Gasnier's move to rugby - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Doust stumped by Gasnier's move to rugby

By Steve Jancetic 13/05/2008 06:16:49 AM Comments (0)

St George Illawarra chief executive Peter Doust said he was caught off guard by news Mark Gasnier was contemplating a move to play rugby union in France because he believed the Test centre was a happy Dragon.

Doust came under fire on Monday for admitting he was stunned to learn Gasnier was exploring his options, despite the fact he was the chief executive who signed off on the five-year contract which includes a get-out clause in each year of the deal.

The Dragons boss said he was fully aware of the clause, but admitted he never thought it would be exercised by the club captain.

"He is happy with us - that's the surprise, I didn't have any inkling of it occurring," Doust said.

"I knew (the clause was there, but) it was obviously in his contract last year too wasn't it?

"It's there because of the term of his contract being five years and it's a commercial term that one didn't ever expect would be applied."

Given the Dragons have already had former skipper Trent Barrett walk out on the club midway through a contract and prop Jason Ryles contemplate doing the same despite being less than six months into a three-year contract, one could suggest that perhaps Doust should not have been so surprised to see Gasnier consider exercising his option.

Gasnier admitted on Sunday he had explored his options in France, but his motives remain murky.

The 26-year-old said he'd "been confronted with a situation that I have to react to and I'm doing it in my best interests."

The Nine Network claimed Gasnier was owed hundreds of thousands of dollars because of disputes relating to the non-payment of deals with sponsors, though neither the club nor his manager George Mimis returned AAP's calls to address the issue.

Gasnier's possible defection could also rob this year's Rugby League World Cup of its promotional face with the Test centre the headline act of the tournament's marketing campaign.

His decision to engage in talks with French rugby union clubs about a possible switch of codes could see the Test centre playing the 15-man game by the time the tournament kicks off in October.

Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr refused to contemplate the prospect of Gasnier jumping ship before the tournament, but there is little doubt World Cup organisers would be left devastated if he defected.

"It's not a blow to us - he hasn't done anything," Carr said.

"We don't talk about hypotheticals. At the moment Mark Gasnier just played for Australia, he's playing with St George Illawarra, he's got a contract with them, that's all that we can be concerned with."

In the past representative selectors have tended to overlook players who had signalled their intention to head offshore, citing a desire to pick for the future.

Gasnier will be one of the first names inked in when NSW selectors sit down to thrash out their side for Origin I, and given his two-try performance for Australia on Friday night he would seem an almost guaranteed selection in the green and gold come the World Cup.

But with the French rugby union competition kicking off in August, his availability for the World Cup would be in serious doubt even if selectors were keen on him.

Those involved behind the scenes at the World Cup have remarked in recent months at the passion Gasnier has showed for the tournament and about creating a legacy in the green and gold.

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