Raper warns Dragons duo to make a call - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raper warns Dragons duo to make a call

By Steve Jancetic 19/06/2008 08:01:30 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league Immortal and former Dragons great Johnny Raper claims St George Illawarra duo Mark Gasnier and Jason Ryles risk ruining their own reputations and the club's 2009 premiership hopes by dithering over their NRL futures.

Raper called on the want-away pair to make a decision on their future to allow the Dragons to move forward with plans for next season.

Gasnier and Ryles command almost a quarter of the club's annual $4.1 million salary cap.

While their defection would leave the Dragons with plenty of money to spend on the open market, the available talent is dwindling by the day.

There is a fear the delay in their decision making could see the red and whites miss the boat in the race to sign players, Raper claiming the club and its fans deserved better.

"They've got to make a decision and make it very quickly, they've got to remember the years they've played for St George and what St George has done for them," Raper said.

"They've got to think of the difficult times that they've had while at the club and how the club has got around those difficult times for them - this is a time when they owe the club something back.

"They should bloody well come out and make a statement - yes I'm going or no I'm not going.

"Incoming coach Wayne Bennett, he'd like to see them make a decision because if they go, he knows he can work on filling those two spots."

While Ryles could be just days away from announcing his intention to join Les Catalans next season, with Melbourne forward Jeremy Smith poised to replace him at the Dragons, the saga over Gasnier's whereabouts for 2009 and beyond continued unabated with the Test centre refusing to answer questions regarding his future.

"I want to sort it out behind closed doors ... it's not fair to comment and nor will I be commenting," he said before the Dragons' final training session ahead of Friday night's clash with Penrith.

Some Dragons fans are already upset at the length of time it has taken Gasnier and Ryles to make a decision on their futures, believing it has cost the team the chance to sign or re-sign other players.

Josh Morris last month agreed to join the Bulldogs on a three-year deal, the local junior essentially leaving due to the logjam in the centres at St George Illawarra.

The Dragons are believed to be in talks with Brisbane winger Darius Boyd for next season, but can't move until a decision is made on Gasnier.

Raper said the Dragons faithful would never forgive the pair if they left the club in the lurch for next season.

"(Gasnier) wants to leave St George with the same reputation with the fans that he has now," Raper said.

"The fans don't mind him walking away from the club, they'll still talk to him in the street ... but the way they're going on now, people won't even talk to them.

"They'll finish up with a bad reputation, I can warn them."

Dragons chief executive Peter Doust described the Gasnier-Ryles situation as "not uncommon".

"Obviously they take up a good portion of the salary cap, but at this time of the year it's not uncommon for all clubs to be dealing with key issues with their roster," Doust said.

"We're talking to people and we're considering different issues ... everybody's in the motion of considering their options so it's not as though there's anything desperately unresolved because this (the Gasnier and Ryles contract situation) is unresolved.

"It's not something that we're not use to dealing with, we're constantly moving the deck chairs around."

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