With Tonga’s rugby league team surprising many with their stunning run to the rugby league world cup semi finals, the biggest and best teams in the NRL are starting to sit up and take very real notice of the players who have been a huge part of their sterling tournament and, physically, none are bigger than second row giant Ben Murdoch-Masila.
The forward starred in 2017 for Betfred Super League team Salford Red Devils and, after earning a spot in the league’s Dream Team off the back of his performances, Warrington Wolves pounced. Change is afoot at the Halliwell Jones after The Wire’s underachievements last season with Steve Price and Ian Henderson forming a new management team to replace Tony Smith and a big recruitment drive has followed. Arguably, the gargantuan Tongan is the biggest and most exciting signing they have made which makes this mornings articles about him moving to the NRL rather troubling.
Clubs from Down Under have reportedly been contacting Mario Tartak, Murdoch-Masila’s manager, regarding his availability for 2018 and this is a troubling proposition as all of these clubs will be aware that the behemoth forward signed a three year deal with Warrington recently, accompanied by a six figure sum to entice him to Cheshire. Despite acknowledging this, Tartak has by no means ruled out him staying in Australia come the end of the RLWC. He has been quoted saying “Ben has been one of the best in the World Cup and there have been a lot of enquiries from NRL clubs about him, but he is currently signed with Warrington. He loves it over there and he has signed a really good deal.” While this sounds promising and that there is no interest in leaving, this is evident from his further statement that “if something astronomical comes up here, then we would think about it.”
Having signed with The Wolves, the former Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers forward should be held to his contract by Warrington. It isn’t right that anybody can essentially poach a player who has very recently committed to a new team, no matter their quality, and the fact that another off season move isn’t being ruled out questions again the presence of loyalty in sport. Rugby League, especially Super League, has been beset by issues of players not honouring contracts in recent years – Chris Sandow, James Segeyaro and Denny Solomona being three high profile examples – and I, for one, hope Warrington really put their foot down to keep the Tongan in their ranks for 2018 after planning for the campaign with him as a key role – no matter what fee is offered for his transfer.