Gary Lo Pic: Sourcer Unkown
Gary Lo Pic: Sourcer Unkown

It is a surprise to read today’s paper that former PNG Hunter Gary Lo has returned back to the country after spending two months in England on a two year contract with third tier rugby league team Gateshed Thunders.

Thunders are coached by PNG rugby league legend Stanley Gene and Gene is responsible for convincing Lo to leave the Hunters last year.

The circumstances in which Lo left the Hunters was much publicised in the mainstream media and social media.  At the time Lo’s new contract appeared in the media, the Hunters and in particular Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko immediately raised concerns that the announcement of Lo’s contract took them by surprise.  What appeared to be more disappointing to them was the lack of consultation afforded by Gene to the Hunters.

Fast track to January 2015, we now have Lo and the Sports Minister sitting in the same room announcing Lo’s return to Papua New Guinea after not being satisfied with his stint in England despite the season there not having being kicked off yet.

The specific reasons for his departure from the Thunders is not yet known to us but those in the know have taken to social media to publish information on circumstances surrounding Lo’s surprise departure.  One such commentator is Rob Agen who is a resident in the United Kingdom.  He has published on the Facebook Group Wordlwide Rugby League News interesting information surrounding Lo’s departure.

In summary, Rob Agen comments that no one including the other contracted PNG players and Stanley Gene knew that Lo was departing in the early hours of the morning.  Lo’s departure has caught everyone involved at the Thunders by surprise.

Regardless of who is to blame for Lo’s u-turn, the circumstances surrounding Lo’s departure to England and then his return to PNG calls for players to have independent advice from individuals who are not directly associated with a club.

On face value, Gene would have been acting in the best interest of the Thunders to recruit the best players in the likes of Lo.  The same can be said of the Sports Minister and the Hunters management.  Whether Lo has a manager or not is unknown but the whole scenario certainly calls for players to have representatives who can advise them on the opportunities available, the offers presented and most importantly the pros and cons for each offer or opportunity.  Ultimately, the manager acts in the best interest of the player and not the clubs.

The problem with each player securing or hiring a player manager is money. At this stage, the players do not have the financial capacity to hire a manager to look after their interests but even if this is the case, PNG rugby league needs to consider the possibility of engaging someone who can consider the interest of players.

Other than considering the interest of players as the bottom line for the manager, the other important aspect of player and club negotiations is the process to be followed.  Rob Agen’s facebook posting clearly shows that the manner in which Lo has left the Thunders was unprofessional and the same can be said of how he initially left the Hunters.  But the important point that players must be aware of is that there are right and wrong ways of doing things.  At the professional level, this is critical not just for the player but also others who might follow to play in other countries.

Gary Lo seems to be in the middle of two clubs vying for his service. Each taking the opportunity to convince him to play for them and there’s nothing wrong with this. But with a professional and independent agent or manager beside him advising him of what’s on the table and the pros and cons, he can make a more independent assessment and decision based on what benefit’s him and not necessarily the clubs.

It’s a lesson to be learnt by all concerned and we reiterate that players need independent advice or a player manager to act not only in the best interest of the player but to also ensure that player follows procedure or systems in place.

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