‘I had really just had enough’: How the Super League wars sent The Pearl packing
Known for his dazzling feet and sizzling speed on the field, Rugby League legend Steve ‘The Pearl’ Renouf lifted the lid on one of Australia’s darkest days in Sporting history; the Super League War.
Having scored 142 tries across 183 games for the Brisbane Broncos over eleven seasons, Renouf is one of Rugby League’s most dynamic players, a man who revolutionised the centre position.
As David Morrow and Mat Thompson’s Heroes guest, Renouf revealed how the Super League grew from just a harmless idea to a cataclysmic rift.
“We were at the coalface of the Super League War. Paul Morgan, who was the Broncos founder and John Ribot were the spearheads of Super League and we had a lot to do with them,” Renouf said.
“We had that conversation with John earlier on in the year at Illawarra and he put the scenario on us. If someone offered us to play in a different competition for three times the money would you do it? And we obviously said yes but we honestly thought he was joking.”
Renouf says that the Super League War took a huge toll on him personally and played a role in his decision to leave the Broncos at the end of 1999.
“Then it all happened and we had no idea. That whole period was terrible. Although it opened up the coffers for players in the future, I was really drained by it.
“That period after 1997 and 1998 was part of my reason to give it up. I had really just had enough. That’s why I went to England for two years.
After signing with the Super League during the initial stages of contract talks, Renouf says that many players were under extreme pressure to sign and reveals that he witnessed many falling outs even between best friends.
“You can imagine the pressure all the players were under. A lot of us didn’t have any managers so it was a very difficult time for us Broncos players didn’t really have a choice other than to sign with Super League.”
“I didn’t lose any mates from it so I was lucky there but I saw a lot of best mates break up and argue, it was just terrible”
As the Super League teams were unavailable for selection during this period, Renouf says that turning down his Queensland and Australian jersey was one of the toughest things he’s ever had to do.
“There was always that threat of News Limited taking us to court if we ever decided to play for Queensland or Australia during that time because of our contracts. I had to turn down an Origin jersey and a Test jersey and turning down that Test jersey was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do”
Click PLAY to hear the full conversation with Steve ‘Pearl’ Renouf: