Wigan return is the key to Aussie deals

Lee Mossop who is to leave Wigan at the end of the season for Parramatta Eels
Lee Mossop who is to leave Wigan at the end of the season for Parramatta Eels

IAN Lenagan admits Wigan could have pocketed a bigger transfer fee if Lee Mossop had gone on the open market.

But the chance to bring him back to the club after a stint in the NRL – coupled with Parramatta’s six-figure offer – persuaded him to part with the prop.

The Evening Post yesterday revealed exclusively how Mossop would leave Wigan with a return ticket.

And chairman Lenagan confirmed a deal has already been agreed for him to come back to the DW Stadium in either 2016 or 2017 - before outlining how similar arrangements may work in the future.

Rather than try and prevent players from moving to the NRL, Wigan will not stand in their way, in the hope that “around 50 per cent” will come back to the club in the future.

Australian clubs are increasingly targeting Super League players following the success of Gareth Ellis, Sam Burgess and James Graham Down Under.

With a higher salary cap and a favourable exchange rate, English sides can not compete financially with the cash on offer from the NRL - and Lenagan is resigned to losing Sam Tomkins within the next 18 months.

However, he believes by allowing players to satisfy their craving of playing in the NRL - without severing links altogether - is the way forward.

Lenagan said: “What’s the point of fighting the competition when it’s there?

“It’s far better to have a strategy that facilitates these players going, makes money for Wigan, and encourages them to come back. And I believe 50 per cent who leave for the NRL will come back to Wigan, and they’ll be better players when they do.

“We already have them signed up to salaries, there are no negotiations to do.

“This is a good strategy for Wigan, and if it allows five, six, seven or eight players to go to the NRL, all we have to do is produce the same number of players underneath.”

Parramatta have also paid a six-figure transfer for Gareth Hock, who is currently on a season-long loan with Widnes after a bitter fall-out with his home-town club.

Both players have agreed two-year contracts with the Sydney-based club for seasons 2014 and 2015 with a further one-year mutual option for 2016.

Wigan have first option on each player to re-sign after that period, under already agreed terms.

Lenagan said: “We are confident that such an agreement can benefit both parties hugely.

“The NRL is an attraction currently for quality English players, not only financially but also so that the players can challenge themselves in another top rugby league competition.

“In the case of Lee Mossop, who is still only 24 and is determined to return to Wigan, he could return in two or three years’ time a better player and still be at the peak of his career.

“The Wigan club is in a strong position to benefit from the excellent experience a player will have gained whilst away in the NRL but is also uniquely able to replace the player from within the club’s own successful Wigan and Wales production line of young talent or from other sources.”

Mossop admitted he may not have left for the NRL had the pathway back to the club not been in place.

He said: “This is perfect timing for me to play in the NRL with an ambitious and growing club, having hopefully played for England in the World Cup first. “I’m looking forward to the rest of this season and will do all I can to try and help Wigan win as many games as possible and more silverware in Super League and Challenge Cup before I leave.”

Lenagan also indicated that the special arrangement with Parramatta could allow for some of Wigan’s talented Under-19’s squad to head Down Under to gain valuable experience playing for a year in the Australian Under-20’s competition.