I come before you with the unfortunate job of telling you they are at it again.
In doing what always seems to happen, Joe Tapine has chosen the week of Canberra’s biggest game of year to talk about his contract, as reported by David Polkinghorne of The Canberra Times. It harkens back to John Bateman choosing the week of the grand final to leak his contract demands, a move that brought brinksmanship and bad taste to what should have been a pure and joyous occasion.
Of course this is different, and shouldn’t be the pall over the elimination final it might otherwise feel like. Tapine was responding to questions as part of a comprehensive finals preview, not leaking information. Access at finals time is a different beast; players’ media responsibilities expand during this period, and there’s a greater interest on Raider-based content. Questions like this are right to be asked, and answered, at times like this. It’s just a small part of a wider story after all. I’d prefer the response is “I love it here I’m never leaving and that guy from the Sportress is a good fella” but, well, excuse me while I sigh and fantasise.
As for his actual answer, I read it as trying to get out an answer without ruining your leverage.
We had a couple of talks a couple of weeks ago. We’ll have a look in the next couple of weeks or months and see what we’re going to do. I’m not closing any doors at the moment, but me and my wife are happy. But at the same time, still open.Taps to the Times
Welcome to trying to say you’re probably staying but also trying to make it clear you’ll go if they don’t come with the dollars. Welcome to trying to say that while not pissing the fans off in a big week. Welcome to players having to be politicians with bigger pecs. There’s a reason the focus of the article was Taps getting off the beers rather than the above quote. Polkinghorne and the Canberra Times rightly recognised the answer is a holding pattern until the season is done.
I’m sorry it’s not more than that but Taps has to, and is going to, get paid. His statement simply reflects that. After the season is done there will be competition, and if Canberra are in the same ball park as everyone else there’s every chance he’ll stay. He was complimentary of Sticky this year, and of the club more generally. He’s having a career season in the current set up, why risk it on something new for a little more cash? Given the Milk have the best part of $1.5 million coming off the cap this summer with little coming in, they should be able to push any other club’s offer.
The good thing for the Raiders is that lifestyle or status choices like the Broncos or the Roosters are having public conversations about how to keep existing talent. It’s unlikely either will be able to get near enough to an offer he could get in Canberra (or elsewhere) to make the shift worth it. But if a lunatic blows the market out of the water – and there are a few likely options there – the Milk may have to make a difficult choice. If I had to put a percentage on it I’d say it’s a 65 per cent chance he stays. Can we gamble on this? I want to know what gamblor thinks.
That this is an issue now isn’t Joey Taps fault. This is a function of the nature of his contract, and the time of the season. The Raiders have been patient with this deal, while Tapine and his manager have been angling for that sweet cash through a series of statements that have all been aimed squarely at reminding Don Furner there’s plenty of demand for King Tapine’s services. As Joey says, only time will tell if he stays in Canberra, but if his statement is anything to go by, he’ll probably stay. Or not. Look we’ll look at it in a few weeks. Or months.
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