It’s the story that’s been doing the rounds most frequently in the past few days, but now Canberra CEO Don Furner has launched a staunch defence of his decision to cut short George Williams’ contract immediately.
Halfback Williams has asked numerous times to be released from his contract as he wants to return home – the last request of which came through on Monday night. The following day, Williams told the club that he would neither be training nor playing in Saturday’s game against Sydney.
That left Furner and head coach Ricky Stuart to discuss the situation and agree that the England international should no longer be contracted to Canberra.
Reported initially by thegh.com.au, Furner said: “He’s asked a number of times (to be released). Unfortunately we have to make decisions on the best interests of the club, not the individual.
“I can’t leave the club exposed at the end of the year with a guy who might get on a plane and not come back… and we have a position to fill.
“If he is genuinely homesick, and we offered him the support for that, he should get home.”
When asked if the club had rallied round the halfback, Furner retorted: “We have unbelievable welfare officers. We’ve offered him counselling. We offered him to go home at the end of the year. He could go home for the three months, that’s full pay.
“But again it was repeated requests… on the Monday night and then doesn’t show up the next day, nor playing the game. So that was a bit disappointing.
“I’m sure he’s homesick. But we have a lot of people in this organisation. There’s 120 people in this organisation facing a lot more difficulties than homesickness and they turn up to work.
“These things never go down well. It’s not pleasant for anybody. No one wins. Unfortunately we have to deal with it.”
There was one stumbling block, however, and that was the fact that Williams has not yet signed the release papers.
“The process is a legal stand off for a while and we have to work through it and that’s what we’re doing at the moment.”
Furner took the decision to release Williams now rather than at the end of the season in order to rebuild the Raiders side immediately.
“We needed to know where we’re going now. That’s what we have to do as a club is plan our future. There are other options now. We didn’t want to look at them. George was our preference.”
Read the full story and Josh Hodgson’s remarks on thegh.com.au.