Claim against Wigan rugby agent heading to trial

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A trial date has been set for the controversial cross-coda saga involving Wigan-based agent Andy Clarke.

Denny Solomona’s former rugby league club Castleford are seeking £500,000 in damages against the winger, Sale Sharks and his agent, Clarke.

The matter went before Leeds Mercantile Court today after the parties failed to reach an out-of-court settlement, and has been listed for a seven-day trial in Leeds in the period from November 13 and January 12.

The parties were told to disclose documents and exchange witness statements by mid-July.

Sale were not represented at the hearing other than by barrister Martin Budworth, while Castleford’s legal team of Arnold Ayoo and Richard Cramer accompanied Castleford chief executive Steve Gill.

Castleford took legal advice after Solomona, who scored a Super League record 40 tries in 2016, failed to report for pre-season training in November.

Sale subsequently announced Solomona had retired from rugby league before signing him on a three-year contract in December.

In papers lodged at the High Court in December, the Tigers claimed that Sale and Clarke entered into a “cynical calculation” that they would be financially better off if the player breached his contract rather than negotiate a transfer fee and, therefore, were due exemplary damages in addition to £500,000.

The document, brought by leading QC Nick Randall, revealed that on September 8 - a month before the end of the Super League season - Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond offered to pay Castleford £50,000 in compensation “for a quick and quiet deal” after withdrawing an earlier offer of £150,000 which had been rejected.

The Super League club, who turned down an approach for the player from Warrington in August, argued Solomona’s subsequent non-attendance at training, allied with a social media image of him playing table-tennis with Sale players the following day and a picture of a Sharks removal van outside his home, proved a “clear unequivocal repudiatory breach of contract”.

Castleford, therefore, terminated his contract on November 11 and began their lawsuit, claiming that a genuine transfer value for the player would have been £500,000.

Castleford have adequately replaced Solomona, with Greg Eden currently topping the Super League scoring chart with 15 tries in 10 appearances, and hope to use any cash injection to complete the signing of full-back Zak Hardaker, who is on a season-long loan from Leeds.

Solomona, who played rugby union as a youngster, was included in England’s 31-strong squad after completing the three years’ residency qualification.