Ben Elias, former NSW captain, two-time Kangaroo tourist and Balmain Tigers legend, wanted his club to join the rebel Super League competition as News Limited searched for one more ARL club to secure its rebel league.
He felt players were being ‘ripped off’ with their contract fees as crowds reached record levels and Pay-TV was about to use rugby league’s appeal to drive new subscribers, so he wanted a better deal. And he feared for the Tigers’ future.
So, he met with two of the country’s most powerful media moguls, listened to both sides, and tried to sell to Balmain a huge News Limited financial package and, he says, a virtual guarantee of survival. He was shot down in seconds by Balmain powerbrokers, and then their members.
He has since regretted, and resented, the brick wall he faced that he feels led to Balmain losing its identity in the Wests Tigers merger.
He tells the whole inside story at the Men of League Foundation Queensland Annual Lunch, presented by Newstead Brewing Co, on Friday 7 September at Brisbane’s Royal International Convention Centre which has a theme of ‘Rugby League Disrupted’.
Don’t miss out on the chance to hear both sides of the Super League war with special guests Ben Elias, John Ribot and more – Book your tickets here!
By Neil Cadigan