SPORTS

Bati Trio Safe With Storm

Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said the club expected the season to eventually pause and had already started planning for this moment
27 Mar 2020 13:53
Bati Trio Safe With Storm
Suliasi Vunivalu, Tui Kamikamica and Isaac Lumelume.

The future of players, clubs and many more remain uncertain as the National Rugby League season is paused indefinitely.

While news came as shock to many fans, the Melbourne Storm seemed to be a step ahead.

Storm CEO Dave Donaghy said the club expected the season to eventually pause and had already started planning for this moment.

That means at the moment our Vodafone Fijian Bati players of Tui Kamikamica, Suliasi Vunivalu and centre Isaac Lumelume along with their team-mates and coaching staff are still on the payroll.

“At times it felt like you were plugging holes during the day at that point it quickly became evident to us that it was going to be untenable quite soon,” Donaghy told Fox Sports.

“It wasn’t something I suppose surprised us, we knew it was coming at some point.

We put a submission into the ARL CEO a week or two before around potential scenarios so that when the time comes this is something our industry needs to look at.”

He also details the moment the coronavirus started to really pose as a threat for the club.

“It was about a month ago that it dawned on us that this is significant. A couple of months we were talking internally myself and our doctor about the potential impact.

“At that point it didn’t appear that the threat was too great, but for us the situation certainly changed a month ago, the severity dawned on us and we’ve been making contingency plans hoping for the best but planning for the worst.

“At this stage we’re probably somewhere in between.”

NEXT MOVE

In terms of what the players do next, Donaghy says he will meet with them – and with the staff – to discuss the long-term future.

In the short term, the players will be allowed to go home to be with their family and the club will provide them with a training program to look after themselves.

“We’re going to meet as a playing group with staff and having a conversation about what this means in the foreseeable future,” he said.

“In the immediate future, the opportunity for players to go home and spend time with their families, they’ll be given a program to do their best with keeping fit.

“For these guys it’s uncertain. They train in a certain way, they work on a timetable, everything’s prepared and everything is ready to go to the sound of a bell for kick off.

“That’ll be different, it’s taken away from them after two weeks but we’re like everyone else, the club, the industry, no one’s at the end of this thing, it’s a pandemic impacting everyone right around the world.”

NO BLANKET APPROACH

It’s become clear that for the game to stay viable, players and staff will need to take pay cuts.

“The exact cut is yet to be determined, but Donaghy says each arrangement will need to be individualised per player and staff member.

“While there are people who are well paid there are also those who are on minimum wage and we’ve got to ensure this isn’t a blanket approach, we’ve got to personalise the care for our playing group and our staff and talk through ways we can do our absolute best and work hard with all of our team to ensure we will get through this.

“We’ll look after each other, we’ll stay connected and take great care of your people. The one thing we’re holding onto is hope.”

CLEARER INFORMATION

Donaghy hopes to get clearer information on the impact on revenue and the plans to pick up the season again.

“We know now we’ve paused, hopefully we’re going to pick that up at some point this year. We need to start working together around if there’s going to be an impact to revenues – which there will be.

“We’re not immune to that, we understand what’s coming but how that’s split up, what the plan looks like when we do come out of hiatus.”

Edited by Simione Haravanua

Feedback: leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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