Castleford are also seeking damages from the Sharks despite the union club’s insistence on Tuesday that they have done nothing wrong in signing the 23-year-old.
Solomona was unveiled as a Sale player on Tuesday after weeks of speculation which began when the wing – who scored a record-breaking 42 tries during the 2016 Super League season – failed to return to pre-season training with Castleford as agreed last month. He then informed the club he had retired from rugby league.
Until now Castleford had resisted the temptation to comment publicly on the situation under instructions from their legal team. But in a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Tigers – who rejected three previous bids, including one from Sale, for Solomona – said they are opening legal proceedings against Solomona, Sale and the player’s agent, Andy Clarke, after the player walked out on the remaining two years of his contract.
Clarke is also under investigation by the Rugby Football League for his involvement in the transfer. “In August this year, we made it very clear to Solomona and Sale that there was an unbreakable contract in place until the end of the 2018 season with no basis whatsoever for either ourselves or Solomona to depart from each other’s mutual obligations,” said the Castleford chief executive, Steve Gill.
“We have repeatedly told Sale Sharks that it would be impermissible for them to talk to Solomona, let alone sign him. Clear, unequivocal warnings have clearly been disregarded.
“Unfortunately we are not privy to what has happened over the last three months between Solomona and his agent but on the back of losing the player in the circumstances described and now announced by Sale, we confirm that we have issued proceedings out of the high court in Leeds for damages against Denny Solomona for breach of contract and for damages including exemplary damages against Sale Sharks Ltd and Andrew Clarke for inducing breach of the said contract.”
Gill added that despite late efforts to resolve the situation the decision to go to the high court to pursue damages was a “last resort”.
“We have confidence that the legal system will bring out all of the facts and truth,” he said. “We are fighting this not just for Castleford Tigers, but also for the integrity of all sports including rugby union clubs. Our belief is that all contracts are sacrosanct in professional and amateur sports.
“The proceedings have been issued as a last resort having failed over the last couple of weeks to try and resolve matters without the formality of court proceedings. If the shoe was on the other foot and Solomona had suffered a career-ending injury in the last match of the season, there would have been an absolute obligation on us to honour our contractual obligations.”
The RFL’s chief executive, Nigel Wood, said: “It is not surprising that when a club believes the terms of a contract have been broken, they may issue legal proceedings to protect their position.” Earlier, the Sale director of rugby, Steve Diamond, insisted his club had done nothing wrong in signing Solomona and added they were not the only rugby union side interested in the Samoan international.
“I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong at all, to be honest,” he said. “Players have agents and they put the players up on the marketplace.
“Let’s get it straight; there were other clubs in for Denny and there were at least two rugby union clubs I know of that were in the market to sign him.
“I think the situation has been blown out of proportion. These things happen in sport almost every week where players move around and, yes, we’re at a point now where we’re at an impasse.
“But I’m sure that’ll be ironed out before too long. It’s in the hands of the owners of the clubs, it’s nothing to do with me really.”
Solomona had already begun training with Sale before the confirmation of the transfer, and despite a potentially lengthy legal battle now beginning, Diamond said he wanted the wing to make his debut in the Champions Cup clash against Saracens at the weekend.
“There’s no point trying to play him in A team games,” he said. “I think he’ll be involved on Sunday – he’s been training with us for about a week or so now.”
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