Raper and Langlands back Gasnier - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Raper and Langlands back Gasnier

By Wayne Heming 17/07/2008 05:53:58 PM Comments (0)

Immortals and St George legends John Raper and Graeme Langlands have defended Mark Gasnier's decision to turn his back on rugby league for a massive deal to play rugby union.

Gasnier's decision to walk away from league at the end of year for a reported $1 million a season deal with French rugby club Stade Francais under former NSW Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie has polarised opinion.

Raper, the champion lock who played 33 Tests for Australia and 180 games for the Dragons and Langlands, who played 34 Tests and 227 games for the red and whites, said Gasnier should not be castigated for a decision many players would make to secure their financial futures.

"I don't care what people think really, he (Gasnier) should grab the money and go," said Raper, in Brisbane along with Langlands and fellow team of the century team member Mal Meninga for the 100 day countdown to rugby league's World Cup in October.

"A rugby league player takes a big risk every time he runs onto the football field.

"If he breaks a leg, are they going to give him two million dollars after his career is over?"

Raper revealed he and Gasnier's famous uncle, Reg Gasnier, had been secretly offered staggering STG30,000 ($A62,000) deals to play in England after the Kangaroos 1959 tour of Great Britain only to have them blocked by Australian officials.

"(Reg) Gasnier and I were offered 30,000 pounds sterling each to go to England but the board of control wouldn't let us go," Raper told AAP.

"These days you would sue them but back then we didn't know about the law.

"We were ignorant of the law but Reg and I could have taken that and made a lot of money.

"It would have been more than what (Mark) Gasnier is getting today I'd say with the pound sterling the way it was back then."

While Raper loved his Australian jumper he admitted he would have played "anywhere" had officials not stood in his way.

"I would have played in England, I would gone anywhere, France or Japan," he said.

Raper said rugby league was no longer a game but a business.

"Players have to look after themselves and their families, pay their mortgages and they have limited careers as players," he said.

"Rugby league will always produce champions.

"St George will find a player as good or better than Mark Gasnier, we can all be replaced."

Langlands agreed with his former teammate, saying Gasnier had to put his future first.

"When you are talking about that sort of money - a million dollars - that is just too good to refuse," he said.

"You only have a short career and you never know when it is going to end.

"You could ask any former player, Dragons or otherwise, and I know they would say the same thing."

Meninga, Australia's most capped player and four-time Kangaroo tourist, said any "old" player would have seriously considered the kind of offer Gasnier signed.

"Mark could play this weekend and get injured and never play again, so you have to take those opportunities when they come along," said Meninga."

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