League scout scams juniors
By GREG WHITE
IN an alleged scam becoming too prevalent in junior sport, three of Group 2's brightest prospects have found their careers under a cloud and club members severely out of pocket.
Alfred Ned, Denley Foster and Kelwyn Aplin linked with the Port Macquarie club at the beginning of 2006 on the recommendation of a 'talent scout' in preparation for future trials with Wests Tigers and the Sydney Roosters.
But during the season Sharks officials grew suspicious of the activities of the man who accompanied the youngsters and moved quickly to protect the boys interests.
"We tried to keep the lads out of the limelight once the problems were discovered but now the year is over we want everybody to be aware of the dangers out there," Port's assistant secretary Les Murphy confirmed.
"If anyone has information about the man who came down with the boys or knowledge of other similar activities they should get in touch with the police.
"The boys each paid $700 to this bloke up front and the money has disappeared with him."
When the trio and their 'guardian' first arrived in the Hastings from the Doomadgee Mission Station near Burketown in North Queensland the Sharks club found accommodation at Lake Cathie.
"The parents of one of their team-mates became concerned for their welfare and we went in to investigate," Murphy said.
"The kids were found having to sleep on the floor and they were surrounded by drinking, gambling and other unsavoury activities.
"This bloke was alleged to be 'borrowing' money around the place and claiming their funds from the Mission hadn't arrived, so we wasted no time getting them out of there."
Following a confrontation in May, the man left abruptly and the boys were taken into the care of Sharks vice president Adrian Daley Sr.
"The club helped out by arranging furniture and organising meals and expenses to get them back on their feet," Murphy said.
"But AD (Daley) and his family have carried most of the burden since the discovery."
The Roosters and Tigers were contacted, only to advise they had not heard of the boys.
But they were getting plenty of feedback concerning the 'talent scout'.
"Other families who thought their kids had NRL trials organised have found themselves in the same boat and police investigations seem to point to the same person," Murphy said.
When told a similar investigation by Queensland detectives were leading back to a man with Mount Isa ties, Murphy said: "That sounds like him.
"He promises the world then leaves them in the lurch.
"The whole thing is a rip off."
With their under-18 season completed, Denley Foster and Kelwyn Aplin have returned to their families at Doomadgee very disillusioned.
But according the Murphy, the Alfred Ned story will have a happier ending.
"The Gold Coast Titans have signed him to their academy squad and the boy now has a future," he said.
Others may not be so lucky.
Any persons with information about the 'talent scout' is encouraged to contact Port Macquarie detectives.