Ronald Volkman (pic) shouldn't have undergone a medical at the Dragons, says coach Shane Flanagan. Image by Regi Varghese/AAP PHOTOS
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Flanagan has Volkman regrets, but says he arrived hurt

Scott Bailey January 18, 2024

Shane Flanagan has admitted Ronald Volkman should not have completed a medical at St George Illawarra training, but says it’s clear the halfback arrived injured from the Warriors.

One week on from going unsigned at the Dragons, Volkman remains in rugby league purgatory with questions lingering over his immediate future and shoulder injury.

Released by the Warriors last month to head to the Dragons, Volkman spent time at Dragons training without doing any contact before concerns were quickly raised over the state of his shoulder.

The 21-year-old underwent scans and was told he would require major surgery, prompting the Dragons to pull their one-year offer that was yet to be registered by the NRL.

Questions are being asked why Volkman was released from one deal before another was registered.

The Rugby League Players Association remain furious over several aspects of the issue, in particular the Dragons’ decision to have him on the training field while unregistered.

The timeline has also prompted questions on whether Volkman’s surgery will fall under the game’s insurance policy, and how long he will have to wait for it.

“Maybe some of the on-field testing that we did with him, maybe we should have done that behind closed doors,” Flanagan admitted. 

 St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan says Ronald Volkman arrived at the Dragons injured. Image by Jenny Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

“But what’s the difference? 

“We still found out that he had something going on in his shoulder and then we got all the medical tests that we needed to do to determine that. 

“From the medical side of things from our club, I think they did a good job.

“We had the most care and welfare. We did all the testing that we could. I’m disappointed for the young bloke. It’s shattering news.”

Volkman had suffered a previous shoulder injury and underwent surgery in 2022, with two screws now believed to be loose from that operation.

The Dragons received a medical report on his exit from the Warriors, which noted shoulder irritation before their own one returned with conflicting findings upon Volkman’s arrival.

Flanagan said the half’s “strength was down about 60 per cent”, with concerns raised after some simple drills.

“The facts are he hurt himself when he was at the Warriors and he needs surgery,” Flanagan said. 

“We just need to fill the gaps in somewhere.

“I don’t want to get into pointing fingers at clubs. In my 20 years of doing this job I’ve never had a player fail a medical. So it’s a strange one.

“It was Christmas. He was leaving the Warriors. The Warriors announced that he was leaving, not us. 

“He wanted to say goodbye to his teammates before he left the last training session before Christmas and he hadn’t even got here to do his screening or anything.

“There’s a lot of things that could be done better.”

Flanagan insisted the Dragons did not have depth issues in the halves with his son Kyle to play alongside Ben Hunt with Jack Bird and Jesse Marschke providing back up.

 Kyle Flanagan (pic) will free up Ben Hunt in the halves for the Dragons this year. Image by Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS 

RLPA chief Clint Newton hit out on the matter on Thursday, adamant clubs should face penalties if collective bargaining agreement rules were breached in the process.

“If finger pointing was an Olympic sport we’d be handing out some gold medals to some people directly involved in this situation,” Newton told AAP. 

“What we will do instead is continue to support the one individual who has been negatively impacted by this, and that’s Ronald. 

“We will stand by him, continue our investigation, and get to the bottom of how he has been left in such a vulnerable situation by a game that says it cares about its people. 

“We are working on a solution for Ronald, and the enforcement of the CBA rules and obligations is our priority. Any breaches which are found will carry consequences.”