The New Zealand Warriors find themselves at the centre of controversy surrounding the release of promising playmaker Ronald Volkman, who now faces an uncertain future after being let go by the St George Illawarra Dragons.
Warriors chief executive Cameron George has come forward to absolve the club of any responsibility in the Volkman fiasco, asserting that the club fulfilled its obligations diligently. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, George defended the Warriors’ stance, stating, “That’s due diligence I would’ve thought a club would take before agreeing to sign someone.”
“We agreed with Ronald’s management that he’d be released immediately. We contributed financially to his release, and it was up to his management to negotiate a contract with another club.”
The saga began when Volkman, seeking greener pastures, requested and was granted an early release from his Warriors contract to join the Dragons in a one-year deal. However, the Dragons released the 21-year-old, citing a pre-existing shoulder injury requiring season-ending surgery.
Due to the contract not being officially registered with the NRL, the Dragons distanced themselves from Volkman, leaving him without a club. Adding to the complexity, Volkman’s manager signed a deed of termination with the Warriors on Christmas Eve, preventing his return to the former club.
Despite the challenging circumstances, George emphasised that the Warriors had acted in good faith. George stated, “Whatever the conditions were for him to go to another club [are] irrelevant to us. Since that release, it was noted that he trained with them.”
The Warriors’ financial support during Volkman’s release is noteworthy, with George saying the club paid a significant portion of the playmaker’s remaining two years on the contract. This assistance, however, hasn’t fully shielded Volkman from the precarious situation he now finds himself in.
Attention is now turning to the actions of the Dragons, who announced Volkman’s signing on social media on January 3 before his medical assessment and NRL contract registration. The Warriors had reportedly sent the Dragons a medical report detailing shoulder irritation and completion of off-season training.
However, during Volkman’s initial training session with the Dragons, concerns arose as he struggled with basic drills and passing a ball. A closer examination revealed serious issues with his right shoulder, including the displacement of two screws, leaving Volkman in a dire predicament.
Defending the Dragons’ approach, chief executive Ryan Webb explained, “As part of the medical assessment, he participated in restricted training. The red flags got stronger.”
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