ADELAIDE legend Mark Ricciuto has denied orchestrating a media campaign to cut dollars from Crows star Josh Jenkins’ next contract.
A Channel Nine report claimed the Fox Footy commentator was leaning on colleagues to criticise Jenkins’ performances and weaken his bargaining position in contract negotiations.
Ricciuto, a Crows board member and chairman of the club’s list management committee, is leading Adelaide’s campaign to re-sign the off-contract 27-year-old.
It was reported last month the Brisbane Lions have made Jenkins a five-year offer beginning in 2017 worth “close to $750,000 per season”. The report triggered responses from prominent footy commentators debating Jenkins’ value to a football club.
North Melbourne greats Wayne Carey and David King spoke out against Jenkins last month, declaring he is not worth $750,000 per year, despite his impressive form for the Crows this season. Carey warned clubs “don’t pay $750,000,” while King said “right now, Josh is not a $750,000-per-year player”.
TV host Craig Hutchison told Channel 9’s Footy Classified on Monday members of Jenkins’ inner-circle believe Ricciuto is using his mates in the media to drive down Jenkins’ value so the Crows can squeeze him under the salary cap. “Mark Ricciuto’s role is getting very interesting,” Hutchison said.
“Mark is the influential powerbroker at the Adelaide Footy Club. He sits on the board. He chairs the list management committee. He’s also a commentator at Fox Footy.
“The Jenkins camp, we understand, are a little bit curious about some of these remarks.
“There are those in the Jenkins camp who have questioned the Adelaide Football Club.
“There is a question mark as to whether Mark Ricciuto has had any influence on some of the knowledge that’s been portrayed around Josh Jenkins.”
.@CraigHutchy with a dramatic twist in the Jenkins deal. #9FootyClassified https://t.co/Hap97ze03r
— Footy Classified (@FootyClassified) June 20, 2016
Ricciuto on Tuesday responded to the accusations, warning Hutchison to “be careful”.
“It’s very believable that I would do that, but anyone who knows Wayne Carey and a lot of people do — go and speak to anyone at North Melbourne — and they will tell you that Wayne Carey says what Wayne Carey wants to say,” Ricciuto told Triple M Adelaide’s Roo and Dits for Breakfast.
“He doesn’t get told what to say. He’s a strong man, he has his own opinions, like he had his opinion of (Hawthorn star) Sam Mitchell, that he wouldn’t get a game at other sides and other players he talks about. People don’t put words into Duck’s mouth.
“David King talks about a lot of players in his role at Fox Footy, he’s the analyser, he backs up all his comments with stats.
“Hutchy, if you are accusing me, you better just be a little bit careful.”
Ricciuto never specifically denied the accusations, but declared any reported links of problems between himself and Jenkins “are wrong”.
“I’ll make this very, very clear,” Ricciuto said. “Josh Jenkins is doing a fantastic job at Adelaide, he’s improved rapidly ever since he came to the club. Not just in the last 12 months but in the last few years and I love what he’s doing at the Adelaide Football Club and I would love him to stay and I reckon he’s doing an awesome job.
“For anyone out there who thinks I’ve got beef with Josh Jenkins, they are wrong. They need to know what the facts are before they just listen to things that are going on in the media.”
Former West Coast and Carlton captain Chris Judd said he believes Jenkins is worth around the $550,000-per-year mark.
Crows coach Don Pyke said contract talks are ongoing with Jenkins.
The key forward has kicked 37 goals in a breakout season, with rival clubs circling the 27-year-old.
“We are trying to avoid it becoming a distraction,” Pyke said on Tuesday.
“I’m not going to talk in detail about contracts, that is not our method.
“The conversations are ongoing. Josh is really clear in terms of he’s a required and wanted player at the footy club. He has really made some great strides.
“And he has indicated that he’s really keen to stay.
“So those two things add up to a player who is wanted and player who wants to stay.
“Hopefully we can get something concluded in the near term.”
— with AAP
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