Another week, another major NRL player move.
It was Mitchell Moses’ turn this time, with the talented five-eighth leaving the troubled Wests Tigers to join the Parramatta Eels, it was announced on Tuesday.
We are 10 weeks into the 2017 season – not that you would know.
Ever since the season started, discussion has been completely dominated by player moves and contract talks involving the stars of the game.
I mean, who would want to talk about the on-field action – you know, the stuff fans pay to watch – when another week could be taken up by Josh Dugan’s potential move to the Sharks, discussion on the Tigers’ farcical list management or how the Bulldogs manage their salary cap with Kieran Foran and Aaron Woods coming in?
Big losers out of what Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett calls a ‘chaotic’ transfer system are the fans. Just ask those who follow Wests.
They vented their feelings against Cronulla in Round 9, holding up banners that read ‘Woods is a dog’ among other more crude messages.
That’s the same Woods who is the Tigers club captain – until he leaves for big money at the end of the season.
By allowing player movement to be discussed and announced all season, the NRL is responsible for this problem.
A much better way forward seems to be a transfer window or trade period, like the ones used in soccer and the AFL.
And player manager Chris Orr, who manages the likes of NRL stars Daly Cherry-Evans and Jason Taumalolo, says he made the same suggestion to the league in 2015.
“I would like to see a trade window, personally, and I put that to the league two years ago,” Orr, Managing Director of Pacific Sports Management, told The New Daily.
“You’d have the off-season, trial matches, the Nines, eight games, a trade window [in rep week] and the next time contracts are formalised is the day after the grand final for a two-week contract period.
“You could negotiate, but no contracts would be announced.
“Make it all transparent, make it into an event in itself.
“Twice a year, there’s compete transparency that for a week or two, this is when it occurs.
“The fans will understand it. If you’re club is down two front rowers (by round 8), you go into the market chasing a front rower, and the fans understand what you’re doing.
“It makes it cleaner. Everyone knows what’s occurring. The more the fans are educated about what’s about the occur, the more they can understand and accept it and move forward.”
Orr believes that his proposed approach would stop fans feeling upset knowing their club favourites are heading elsewhere.
“They’re all questioning ‘are they loyal now?’, ‘are they going to apply themselves, give their all for that jersey?’ he said.
“If those contracts couldn’t be signed off until the day after the grand final, the next time they see those players is playing in a different jersey.”
Korbin Sims, who moved to the Brisbane Broncos this year after four seasons at Newcastle, says he sees why fans are getting so angry with the current system.
“You can understand fans feeling hurt or betrayed but that’s just frustration because they want to see their favourite players in their favourite jerseys,” the 25-year-old – who recently added the role of ambassador for menswear brand Johnny Bigg to his resume – told The New Daily.
“Everyone’s reasoning for changing clubs or moving on from a club they’ve been at for a long time is different.”
Orr says there’s no perfect system, but believes the NRL needs to change.
The Rugby League Players Association is in the midst of negotiating a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the League and it’s likely that this is on the agenda.
We can only hope so.