IT must be rare, if not unheard of, for a club to hold a press conference to announce a major new signing without the player himself actually being in attendance.
However, the fact that Denny Solomona, the prolific Castleford Tigers winger who has controversially swapped codes with Sale Sharks, was not present at yesterday’s unveiling says plenty about this ‘transfer.’
His new club did not want him at the press conference for fear he may say something incriminating ahead of the impending legal battle with the Super League outfit following this contentious switch.
The record-breaking Aucklander, of course, still has two years left on his contract at Wheldon Road but failed to return for pre-season training last month before telling Castleford he was “resigning” from the sport.
Sale, weeks after Solomona was first spotted training with them, finally declared him their player yesterday on, for what it’s worth, a three-year deal.
They revealed he will make his debut in Sunday’s European Champions Cup game against Saracens – they registered him for that competition last Wednesday – but still refuse to compensate Castleford, which is why the West Yorkshire club are now prepared to take the matter to the High Court.
Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond did comment, saying: “In all honesty, I think the situation has been blown out of proportion.
“I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong at all.
“Players have agents and agents put players up on the market place.
“Let’s have the misconception right; there’s three other clubs looking at Denny, two from union I know were in the market to sign him.
“I can say from day one Sale have acted in the best interests of Sale and done everything legitimately by the book.
“We’re at an impasse now but I’m sure that will be ironed out. He just said he wanted to play the game he grew up with; his desire was to play union.”
Castleford had turned down three bids for Solomona, including one for around £150,000 from Sale Sharks, insisting he was not for sale before the player took this action.
Solomona, 23, set a new Super League record of 40 tries in a season this year, beating the previous best shared by Bradford Bulls’ Lesley Vainikolo and Leeds Rhinos’ Danny McGuire.
And he was named in the 2016 Super League Dream Team and he was also shortlisted for last season Man of Steel award.
Meanwhile, the Rugby Football League (RFL) are investigating the role of Solomona’s agent Andy Clarke in the matter.
CASTLEFORD TIGERS STATEMENT
Castleford Tigers chief executive Steve Gill released the following statement following Denny Solomona’s move to Sale Sharks.
It read: “As a club we always try our best to look after our players. We have strong values of honesty and integrity.
“If the shoe was on the other foot and Solomona had suffered a career-ending injury in the last match of the season there would have been an absolute obligation on us to honour our contractual obligations.
“We look after our players and fully expect our players to respect their contractual commitments. Sadly and with regret Solomona has done the polar opposite and effectively and unilaterally walked away from the remaining two years on his contract.
“In August we made it very clear to Solomona and Sale Sharks there was an unbreakable contract in place until the end of 2018.
“We have repeatedly told Sale Sharks that it would be impermissible for them to talk to Solomona let alone sign him. Clear unequivocal warnings have clearly been disregarded.
“Unfortunately we are not privy to what has happened over the last three months between Solomona and his agent but on the back of losing the player we confirm we have issued proceedings out of the High Court in Leeds for damages against Solomona for breach of contract and for damages including exemplary damages against Sale Sharks Ltd & Andrew Clarke (Solomona’s agent) for inducing breach of the said contract.
“This is a last resort having failed over the last couple of weeks to try and resolve matters without the formality of court proceedings.
“We have confidence the legal system will bring out all of the facts and the truth. We are fighting this not just for Castleford Tigers but also for the integrity of all sports.”