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ARL Commission Chairman Peter V'landys has endorsed the introduction of a draft to replace the player movement market as a way to evenly distribute talent across the 16 NRL clubs.
Clubs have been making proposals to a working group convened by the NRL to look at how player movement can be improved to balance teams’ rosters and discourage bidding wars that inflate the value of contracts.
V’landys told The Saturday Telegraph the NRL was open to the current market system being replaced if it was no longer deemed as ‘best practice’.
“We will certainly be looking at it because the talent system is not the most appropriate,” V’landys said.
“In good corporate governance everything has to be reviewed to ensure we are using best practice, everything is on the table. When you review something, you review the whole system.
“We are open to changes, there is no doubt about that. But we have to do it in partnership with the players’ association.”
Under the proposal off-contract players with two or more seasons of NRL experience would only be able to move clubs via a draft.
There would also be an opportunity for players in the Canterbury Cup and Intrust Super Cup to nominate for the draft.
Players with less than two seasons of NRL experience would only be able to enter the draft with their club’s permission.
Contracted players seeking a release would also go into the draft.
The draft order would be determined by where teams finished on the ladder the previous season. For instance, the last-placed team would get the first pick.
There would be a trade window before draft day to negotiate things like contract length and value.
In 1991, the NSWRL introduced a draft but it was quashed after the full bench of the Federal Court ruled it was a restraint of trade. The class action against the NSWRL was sparked after former player Terry Hill was drafted to Eastern Suburbs instead of Western Sydney Magpies, where he wanted to play.
Any changes to the current system would have to wait until the collective bargaining agreement ends in 2022.
Rugby League Players Association CEO Clint Newton said any changes to how movement between clubs occurred would need to protect players from becoming commodities.
“We’re always open to discussions but the starting point is what we currently have in place under the collective bargaining agreement,” Newton said.
“Any changes to the current system would need to demonstrate significant positives for our members and their finite playing careers.”
One of the game’s most respected recruitment gurus, Peter Mulholland, believes a rookie draft system, where junior players are distributed among clubs, is a more feasible approach than an internal player draft.
Any rookie draft would continue working alongside the current player movement model.
“With the history and structure of our game, especially because clubs do the development, a draft would be more applicable around the 18-year old mark and going into grade rather than already being established,” Mulholland said.
“I think the current system is good at determining the value of players once they are at NRL level. But there are always going to be areas within that system that could be finetuned, like the size of rosters and the nature of development contracts.”
Regardless of whether a draft, in any form, is introduced in the future V’landys said the game must have a system in place that encouraged players to honour their contracts for the entirety of its duration.
He believes the ease of contract releases, whether initiated by the club or player, are a blight on the game.
“We want a system where a contract is a contract. Fans, when a player signs up at their club, expect that player to stay there,” V’landys said.
HOW THE NRL DRAFT WOULD WORK
- Off-contract players with more than two NRL seasons go into the draft;
- Players in first or second NRL season are ineligible unless nominated by club;
- Club can also nominate contracted players seeking release;
- Ladder position will determine the picking order;
- Two-week trade period to negotiate terms of each pick — contract length, value etc; and
- Draft day takes place when trade period closes.
No draft. It’s a restraint of trade. Terry Hill beat it once before in the courts.
The biosecurity expert charged with guiding the NRL through the pandemic has lauded the sport for its handling of the crisis and given players and clubs genuine hope that the competition could regain some sense of normalcy in the early rounds of next year.
Associate Professor David Heslop helped put together the biosecurity protocols that have governed the game’s return and met club chief executives on Wednesday to give them an outlook on the future.
He did the same for The Australian on Thursday and provided genuine optimism that a vaccine was on the horizon, the forerunner to players being unshackled and crowds returning to games en masse in the early part of next season.
You don't think the market size would entice the NRL? Not necessarily any time soon, but decades from now I think it will follow suit of a lot of the other codes.Nope. They simply don't do enough here to justify a 2nd team. Other areas are far more important for a 2nd team.
The market's enticing, but I'm not sure it would ever be ready for another team. I'd rather see work done at grassroots, schools and the like first. Sadly, the NRL just doesn't really give you much confidence they even want to expand.You don't think the market size would entice the NRL? Not necessarily any time soon, but decades from now I think it will follow suit of a lot of the other codes.