Interim Wests Tigers boss Shane Richardson has denied a conflict of interest after recently signing a development player managed by his son for the company he part owns.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Richardson declared all pre-existing interests to the Tigers board before accepting a six-month role as the club’s CEO in order to avoid accusations of conflicts.
Richardson, who replaced ousted Tigers CEO Justin Pascoe is the co-founder and shareholder of Rich Digital – a consultancy firm that includes NRL player agent accreditation.
The accreditation is held by Richardson’s son Brent, who recently signed the Tigers’ last development contract for 2024 in his client Solomona Faataape.
Faataape dominated for the Easts Tigers in the Queensland Cup last year and turned down a 16-week train-and-trial deal with the Broncos to work with Tigers coach Benji Marshall.
Faataape’s signing was Richardson’s first at the club before Christmas, with questions raised over a potential conflict of interest.
Richardson denied any conflict of interest over Faataape’s deal.
“There’s no conflict of interest,” Richardson said.
“I don’t have a licence to do player negotiations. That all stands with my son and always has done. At the end of the day, everything was declared, Wests Tigers are well aware of all the situations and nothing has been hidden from anyone whatsoever.
“Brent sent a tape to the Tigers four or five months ago. When I got involved with the club, I asked the question about it and Benji had not even seen it.
“No one had passed it onto him, so I passed it onto him. So when Benji saw the video, he told me we need to get this guy.
“So we brought him down and Brent did the deal with Benji and Matt Betsey. It’s as simple as that. Everybody is well aware of it. It’s clean as a whistle.”
Rich Digital, a company that specialises in brand building, digital innovation and talent management, has also signed on as a consultant to Wests Tigers to help the club grow its brand and drive profitable results.
Rich Digital also manages Greg Inglis who is working as a mentor to young Tigers fullback Jahream Bula, with the Souths legend seen in the club’s training kit this week.
However, Richardson said Inglis was not being paid by the Tigers for his services.
“GI met him at an Indigenous program and quickly became friendly with him,” Richardson said.
“Benji and I decided he would be a good mentor for Jahream. He’s not paid by the club, he’s just a mentor for Jahream to check on him and help him with the mental health side of things.
“It’s really a mentor role. He’s not here to tell him how to play fullback, it’s a genuine mentoring role about what’s required off the field to be a good first grade footballer on the field. There’s nothing untoward going on in any way, shape or form.”
However, New Tigers chairman Barry O’Farrell told The Herald, Marshall and general manager Matt Betsey negotiated Faataape’s deal directly with Brent Richardson.
“In the time that I’ve worked with Shane in the role, if there’s any interest to be declared at a director level or CEO level, they have been declared in a timely finish,” O’Farrell said.
“Shane has operated with the highest integrity since starting in the CEO role at the Wests Tigers. As a professional, he ensures he stays within the appropriate limits, and if there are any issues or conflicts, he declares them.
“The key recommendation of the Crawford-Barnier report was to improve governance. From day one, directors and CEO have ensured that has been a part of the principle of reform.”
Originally published as Tigers boss denies ‘conflict of interest’ over signing player managed by son