10 Mar 2017

Sport: Cook Islands league dispute could reach High Court

10:49 am on 10 March 2017

A Cook Islands rugby league club could invoke legal action after it was docked points and fined for fielding a player contracted to another club.

The punishment was meted out by the Rugby League Association following a decision by its judiciary.

The affected club has lodged an appeal and is threatening to escalate the dispute to the High Court.

The player, Joe Hoeflich, was enticed by his sponsor to play for the Ngatangiia Sea Eagles despite having a contract with the Avatiu Eels.

The chairman of the judiciary Wilkie Rasmussen said the Sea Eagles forced the Association's hand.

"The club had apparently refused to take heed of notifications from the Rugby League Association to stand the player down," he said.

Former Cook Islands Foreign Minister , Wilkie Rasmussen

Wilkie Rasmussen. Photo: RNZI/Cook Islands News

But the Sea Eagles lawyer Norman George said Hoeflich's contract with the Eels is invalid.

"Our procedures are to exhaust the appeal provision. Then I intend to file an application to the High Court to decide whether the employment contract of the player is valid and my argument is it's invalid and they should not have acted on it."

Norman George said he'll ask the High Court to injunct the penalties if he files for a declaratory judgement.