Executive on $200,000 salary responsible for Viliame Kikau photo leak

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Viliame Kikau, pictured here in Canterbury Bulldogs gear with Phil Gould and Trent Barrett.
A photo of Viliame Kikau in Canterbury Bulldogs gear was leaked on social media. Image: Twitter/Getty

The person responsible for leaking a controversial photo of Viliame Kikau in Canterbury Bulldogs gear has been revealed as a top executive on a $200,000 salary.

Canterbury supremo Phil Gould was forced to apologise to the Panthers after Kikau's signing was leaked via a security camera image of him in Bulldogs clothing alongside coach Trent Barrett.

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Kikau's new four-year deal with the Bulldogs from 2023 hadn't been confirmed when the photo was leaked on social media.

In a staggering twist on Wednesday, News Corp revealed the culprit was a high-ranking executive at the Bulldogs who has since resigned over the scandal.

The person responsible was reportedly a male senior executive on a $200,000-a-year contract.

Previous management reportedly gave some staff members access to the Canterbury Leagues Club’s CCTV footage through a mobile phone app.

The executive is said to have taken a screenshot of footage of Kikau, Gould and Barrett before sending it to a friend.

The employee attended a disciplinary meeting with Canterbury Leagues Club management and the human resources department, before resigning on the spot.

Canterbury were over the moon after winning a bidding war for the Fiji international second-rower's services.

But the manner in which the news was leaked has put a dampener on their celebrations.

"I called @PenrithPanthers club today to apologise for the inappropriate leaking of images, taken from security cameras, at Canterbury Leagues," Gould wrote on social media.

"It was not our doing, nor ever our intention, for such images to become public.

"Out of our control. Apologies to Panther players, fans."

Uproar over NRL transfer system 'disgrace'

The 2021 premiership-winner's signature is a massive coup for the Bulldogs, the reigning wooden spooners, who are now assembling a formidable team under Barrett and Gould.

Kikau is still contracted to the Panthers for the 2022 season and expected to play out the season with the defending premiers, who were keen to keep him but not willing to blow their salary cap long-term to do so.

Under the NRL's current rules, players can speak to rival clubs when they have 12 months left to run on their existing contract from November 1.

"Anyone who looks into the fish bowl that is rugby league sees that contracts have become meaningless," league great Billy Moore told AAP.

Viliame Kikau and James Fisher-Harris, pictured here at the Penrith Panthers Grand Final Parade.
Viliame Kikau and James Fisher-Harris carry the Provan-Summons Trophy during the Penrith Panthers Grand Final Parade. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

"I've been vocal about this for a long time and the system is a disgrace.

"The biggest losers are the fans and sponsors and the only person who benefits from it is the player's manager.

"There is no other sport in the world where people sign a contract the best part of a year in advance and then play out their current contract.

"It's a fallacy to say when the (contract's final) season ends you can't go find a new club and move your family if you need to."

ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys conceded the system was not right on and said on Monday that the game would explore changes.

But any amendments are likely to be met by stiff opposition from the Rugby League Players' Association, who argue the situation is against the interests of their members.

with AAP

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