If it was fiction you wouldn’t believe it was possible.
That was the thought that went through my mind when media reports on Friday suggested that Kieran Foran had sought a clearance from his 4 year $4.8m contract with Parramatta after less than a season in Blue and Gold.
His signing, once heralded as the most important by the club in 30 years, has now instead become another sordid chapter in the soap opera from hell that is season 2016.
Ever since Peter Sterling hung up his shoulder pads, the number 7 jersey he bequeathed has seemed a poisoned chalice. A procession line of hopefuls have failed to shine in the shadow the great man left behind. Kieran Foran was to be the man who broke the curse.
In hindsight the whole affair has unfolded like the slow speed white Bronco OJ Simpson chase did all those years ago, but the whole thing almost didn’t happen at all.
After triumphantly announcing their capture of the New Zealand captain, Parramatta couldn’t get the NRL to register the contract. It seemed that no one at O’Connell Street had noticed the clause that allowed Foran to walk at any stage and be paid $1m in damages too.
Hard to believe this board found themselves in the trouble they found themselves in this year isn’t it?
After much fraught negotiations the Eels and Foran came to a settled compromise whereby the damages clauses were removed and the reasons for severance became tied to Brad Arthur’s tenure as head coach.
Parramatta had their man.
In the ensuing months it is fair to say a lot has happened.
I am not going to comment on the reasons why but in this time Foran has been rushed to hospital as a result of a suspected prescription drug overdose, granted indefinite leave from the club to convalesce in a Brisbane rehabilitation centre, come back to football and suffered a season ending shoulder injury 9 games into his Parramatta stint.
Rumours have circulated for some time of him walking away from his lucrative contract prompting him to respond on June 16: “Wanted to let the Parramatta fans know that I have no intention of quitting footy, probably the opposite to be honest. I need football in my life and this shoulder injury has reinforced that to me.”
Still whispers continued to circulate, then on June 28th a bombshell. Foran was issued a breach notice, fined $5000 and stripped of the Parramatta captaincy. It was said that the Eels were unhappy with his commitment to his shoulder rehab.
Grass fire rumours were now fanned into full blown bush fires. Was this the Eels first shot in clearing Foran’s salary for a play at Jarrod Hayne next year? Was Kieran Foran’s heart still in it? Should a $1m a year rugby league player be sinking schooners in a Central Coast TAB when recovering from a season ending shoulder injury? Where can you get tips like Foran, allegedly turning $8000 into $48,000 one afternoon in the sports bar?
It is apparent that Foran sent the following message to his team mates on Friday, fuelling speculation of him walking out on the club: “Guys I’m sorry that I have had to make this decision but at this stage of my life, I need my own time to sort out my private matters and I will continue to support u from afar.”
As both traditional and social medias speculated about Foran’s future his manager was sought for comment and seemed as surprised as the rest of us in a text message to the ABC he said “I’m reading about it now. News to me.”
Parramatta were quick to issue a statement of their own indicating that they had not received a request for a clearance from Foran’s management and that his welfare was their only concern at this stage.
By days end Foran’s management had issued a statement indicating he had sought indefinite leave from the game. He thanked Parramatta for all that they had done for him but indicated that at this time his family and personal situation were more important than the game.
This is where we find ourselves a sorry situation with no winners. A man struggling to put his life back together and a football club again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons and it being extremely important they make all the right decisions from here on in.