A highly-paid leagues club executive who leaked a photo of footy star Viliame Kikau wearing a Bulldogs polo after transferring from their rival has quit his job.
The image was circulated widely on social media last week after the Canterbury Leagues Club employee shared a screenshot of CCTV footage showing the Penrith back-rower, 26, posing in Bulldogs colours at the south-west Sydney venue.
The leak undermined an agreement by the two clubs not to announce the move until after the Panthers’ premiership parade on Saturday.
The employee – said to earn about $200,000 a year – faced leagues club management on Monday and learned he would be sacked if he did not resign.
Pictured: The leaked photo of footy star Viliame Kikau in Bulldogs colours spread on social media. The two clubs had agreed not to announce the move until after the Panthers’ premiership parade on Saturday.
A source close to Canterbury Leagues Club said the staff member had ‘fallen on his sword’ to avoid officials terminating his contract, News Corp reported.
Canterbury-Bankstown’s head of football Phil Gould said he was furious the photo was leaked when Kikau still had a year left on his contract with the Panthers.
When asked whether he was ‘filthy’ about the leak, he replied by saying that would be an ‘understatement’.
Gould and Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett were pictured alongside Kikau in the leaked photo.
Kikau is still contracted to the Panthers for 2022 and, under the current NRL system, won’t play for the Bulldogs for nearly 18 months.
Under the NRL’s rules, players can speak to rival clubs when they have 12 months left to run on their existing contract from November 1.
Former Kangaroos forward Billy Moore has described the NRL’s transfer system as a ‘disgrace’ as is leading calls for an overhaul to the way players sign contracts.
‘Anyone who looks into the fish bowl that is rugby league sees that contracts have become meaningless,’ Moore said.
Kikau pictured left with his partner. He is still contracted to the Panthers for 2022 and won’t play for the Bulldogs for nearly 18 months
‘I’ve been vocal about this for a long time and the system is a disgrace.
‘The biggest losers are the fans and sponsors and the only person who benefits from it is the player’s manager.
‘There is no other sport in the world where people sign a contract the best part of a year in advance and then play out their current contract.’
Kikau with his partner Brittany Carey at the NRL 2021 Dally M Awards on September 27.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys conceded the system was not right and said on Monday the game would explore changes.
But any amendments are likely to be met by stiff opposition from the Rugby League Players’ Association, who argue the situation is against the interests of their members.
Kikau is not the only player to have agreed to terms at a new club but the Fiji international was met by some light boos at Penrith’s grand final parade a day after the photo was leaked.
To prevent such problems, Moore proposed a designated end-of-season transfer period when only off-contract players could move.
Kikau walks into BlueBet Stadium during the Penrith Panthers Grand Final Parade on November 20. The Fiji international was met by some light boos at the parade a day after the photo was leaked
‘I’m a big fan of trading windows because it concentrates the energy around the movement of players, rather than it happening all year long,’ he said.
‘On the Monday after the grand final the circus can start and clubs can begin trading and making deals for next season.
‘You look at the AFL and the English Premier League and the amount of publicity they generate is extraordinary.’