By Dale Budge
Former Warrior Karl Temata suspects he was treated so poorly by the club at the end of last season because of the impending salary cap scandal.
Temata, talking exclusively to tvnz.co.nz, explained how the club failed to offer him a legitimate contract for 2006 before eventually forcing him to forfeit pay in order to join the London Broncos and says that Warriors board member and current Director of Football John Hart knew of the club's salary cap troubles in September last year.
The 27-year-old Temata is currently in the first year of a two year deal with Harlequins (formerly London Broncos) and spoke candidly about the issues surrounding his departure from the Warriors at the end of the 2005 season.
"June 30th came around last year. I wanted to stay with the Warriors if I got a good deal. I got brought in and they said they would offer me something," he said.
"I waited two months but I didn't get anything on paper. They didn't say anything to my agent. That was right up until when we finished.
"The season finished, and London had been interested for a while. The Warriors offered me [a deal] on the last day and I wasn't happy with it so I signed with London and they offered me to come over and do the end of the year stint.
"I got a call back the next day and the Warriors had blocked my release.
Temata's contract ran out with the Warriors on October 31 but the club had already played its last game for the season and the players were free to do as they please. The season's commitments were over and Temata would have received the last of his payments while effectively being on holiday in New Zealand had he not had the chance to go to London.
"It [his contract] goes to October the 31st but once you are finished you are basically on holiday, your obligations have finished," Temata explained.
"I waited for months and they didn't give me any offer and on the last day they came through with an offer."
Temata spoke to the new Director of Football John Hart at the club's end of season awards evening on Thursday September 7th in Auckland and Hart explained why the club hadn't produced an offer to him to that point.
"He [Hart] said to me 'we don't have an issue with you - it is a salary cap issue. That is why we haven't offered you anything.'
"He went on to say that there wasn't a lot of trust with the old management and he was trying to build that."
The next day the hard-working Temata signed with the Broncos only to find out that the Warriors had blocked his move to London.
The Warriors needed to release Temata from the last part of his contract so that he could join the Broncos and start playing immediately.
"I rang Mick [former CEO Mick Watson] first. As far as offering a release, he couldn't do anything because he was leaving.
"The next morning [September 9] I got hold of Spiro [former] and he basically was happy to give me a release."
Tsiros couldn't give Temata the release because the Warriors board refused to allow him to go while still getting paid by the Warriors.
"He told me that the board had told him this - he actually said John Hart was the one who told him this - that if I wanted to go to London I had to send an email to them saying I'd have to forfeit my remaining pay, which was another month.
"I had to say that otherwise they wouldn't give me the release."
Given that Temata had loyally served the Warriors for a number of seasons and played over 50 first grade games it was surprising that they would not give him the release.
"I could have got another job - I could have gone back to scaffolding if I had wanted.
"I have played with them for years, I have never done anything wrong, I have fulfilled all my obligations.
"Especially after what John Hart had said the night before about building trust - I didn't think it was right really."
The quietly spoken Temata hadn't bothered to go public with his feelings until the salary cap scandal hit front pages and he now thinks that maybe the lingering financial issues the club was facing at that time may have been why he wasn't able to get his release.
"Now this [the salary cap breaches] has come up and it was only $12,000 or $10,000 and that's not much in the overall picture of the salary cap but maybe it does have something to do with it."
Temata can guarantee however that former management was adamant that it was Hart who put a stop to any possible release and that they had to have known about the pending salary cap issues.
"Spiro assured me it was John Hart's decision and Mick said the same thing."
New CEO Wayne Scurrah was not involved with the club at the time of Temata's departure.
"As far as I know the new CEO didn't know."
Throughout the dramas of the past week, the Warriors have categorically stated that the new management, including Hart and Chairman Maurice Kidd, did not know of any potential salary cap breaches until Scurrah came across some discrepancies last week.
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