Leigh owner Derek Beaumont has issued a hands-off warning to Super League clubs keen on signing star half-back Ryan Brierley after admitting he was unaware of a release clause in his contract.
The 23-year-old half-back, who scored 37 tries in 33 appearances for the Centurions in 2015, had an agreement enabling him to leave the Championship club if head coach Paul Rowley ever left.
The clause emerged after Rowley resigned last Thursday but Beaumont insists the player is happy to pursue his dream of playing Super League for Leigh and says he is not for sale.
Leeds and Salford, Brierley’s home-town club, are long-time admirers while Huddersfield, Hull and Hull KR were reported to be interested after discovering the release clause.
“It would never happen but, if Leeds came in tomorrow and said ‘here’s £100,000 for Ryan’, I’d say ‘no thanks’,” Beaumont said.
Beaumont says he obtained legal advice on the release clause, which he believed had been deleted when Brierley signed a new three-year contract in 2014.
“I had no knowledge of that clause but, having been made aware of it, I took legal advice and that was that, if it was a private agreement, it would not enforceable anyway because of the manner it was written,” Beaumont said.
“More importantly, any supplementary clause must come from the RFL clause bank.
“It isn’t a concern anyway because Ryan is not trying to enforce it. He’s not going anywhere.
“I would say Ryan’s agent or any agent would need to express extreme caution in discussing his availability before the May deadline with any club because that clause in his contract will not protect them and they will, therefore, be subject to legal retribution by myself, and also RFL operational rules.
“And once we get to the deadline, my understanding is that Ryan will not be making any decisions about his future until he knows where Leigh Centurions are because, if he can achieve his goal with Leigh, then he’ll want to do that.
“It doesn’t pose a problem. What does pose me a problem, though, is how that information has got into the public domain because it is a confidential document.
“It’s important for me to know who, if it is anybody within my club, has put information like that out there and I’ve instructed a solicitor to get on with finding out how that occurred and, if necessary, get an injunction against the source because I feel strongly about that.”
Leigh, the 1-4 favourites to finish top of the Championship, launch their campaign at Batley on Sunday under new head coach Neil Jukes.