Mason flees dogfight for a punt - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mason flees dogfight for a punt

By Todd Balym 02/11/2007 07:12:00 PM Comments (0)

Willie Mason says he would play at another club for match-payments next year if his bitter feud with the Bulldogs cannot be resolved.

Mason is prepared to sacrifice $150,000 in 2008 by leaving the Bulldogs and joining the Sydney Roosters for next to nothing.

"If it comes down to money and me leaving the club, it will definitely be probably on minimum wage or match payments next year," Mason told the Nine Network.

"I have already been wearing blue and white so another colour is not going to hurt me."

With his NRL career in limbo, a nonchalant Mason jetted off for a weekend at Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival.

Instead of involving himself in crisis talks with club management, he left the negotiating to manager Greg Keenan who met with Bulldogs chairman George Peponis on Friday.

The Bulldogs released a statement which said the matter would be resolved at a board meeting next Wednesday, which suggests a release from the final two years of Mason's contract was discussed.

Mason dodged talk of his future when confronted at both Sydney and Melbourne airports, instead quoting the tattoo on troubled AFL star Ben Cousins: "Such is life."

The parallel between Mason and Cousins is evident. Prodigious talents, they both come with baggage that some may consider too risky to gamble on.

Mason's feud with club officials has only tarnished his already muddied reputation as his failure to meet basic club obligations has become public knowledge.

Event no-shows, missed photo shoots and wearing rival clothing to club sponsors could be the type of behaviour that scares off future employers regardless of on-field performance.

Claims that four high profile Bulldogs would follow him were met with fierce denials by player managers who contacted the club with messages of support on Friday.

But Mason's career at the Bulldogs appears over and it's now a matter of who wants him.

The Roosters have denied contact with a website statement saying "the club is not in any position to consider a player of his stature".

But it's worth remembering they refuted claims they'd sign Mark O'Meley too.

Potentially any club can negotiate a back-ended deal for Mason, with a minimal salary in 2008 and inflated wages the following years, but the Bulldogs may only release him on the condition he does not join an NRL team until after 2009, when his current contract ends.

This would force Mason to in the English Super League where he could earn his $400,000 salary or more but would be ruled out of the Test team for next year's World Cup.

Regardless of the result, Mason's latest drama has battered his reputation among supporters with website forums flooded with vitriol against the former fan favourite.

"I've finally had the last straw with Mason ... you are an absolute disgrace with an ego the size of Ayers Rock," wrote one Bulldogs fan.

"Don't let the door hit you on the way out."

Roosters fans are also questioning the club's direction should they recruit a fourth players from the Bulldogs, following Braith Anasta, Nate Myles and O'Meley.

"Good to see the Chooks prepared to waste more and more dough on over-rated players," wrote one fan.

"Mason plays like five good games a year, the rest of the time he goes shopping."

Mason now appears to be the one up for sale but the question remains: just how much is that doggy in the window?

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