Are mid-season trades now a good thing in the NRL?
Krisnan Inu did it again, Sam Perrett looked at home in blue and white and Sandor Earl scored a double in his second game for Canberra.
Instead of the usual outcry about players changing clubs and swapping crests mid-season, it seems we have started to marvel at a coach’s ability to wheel and deal before the June 30 deadline.
Do we just not care anymore, or have we finally come to accept the realities of modern sport?
Sport has always been about passion and pride, but loyalty is a romantic myth.
Rugby League is in the business of entertainment and the financial limitations are extremely tight at most clubs.
A chief executive is only going to give a player the opportunity to be loyal if he adds value to the salary cap. As soon as he’s deemed surplus to requirements it’s out the door.
It’s no wonder plenty of former players don’t throw their arms up hysterically when a modern day counter-part changes colours mid-season.
Still, this arrangement has never really sat well with the majority of fans.
In the past they’ve been annoyed when a player has swapped clubs in the middle of a campaign. Finding someone to share their frustration hasn’t been a difficult task.
It’s understandable. Supporters are asked to show loyalty by purchasing memberships or jerseys. They expect the same in return.
But has the current crop of trades before June 30 softened your stance on what was once one of the most hated aspects of the game?
Inu drifted in and out of the New Zealand Warriors side, with the centre looking like a shell of the player who is capable of stunning displays of skill.
Almost two months later, and Inu is now once again setting the rugby league world alight, but in Australia instead of Auckland.
Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, described by his own CEO as eccentric, has been able to get the best out of the equally eccentric Inu. The competition is all the better for his seven tries in five games.
Roosters fans are right to feel angry about winger Sam Perrett swapping Bondi for Belmore, but why does a club favourite swap teams mid-season? That is the bigger question.
The Roosters have unloaded an unhappy player and would’ve had room to move in their salary cap had they released Perrett earlier.
The New Zealand international wasn’t off contract until the end of next season. Now, coach Brian Smith and CEO Steve Noyce have decent coin to spend on squad reinforcements.
That is, of course, if Sonny Bill Williams isn’t taking up all of that newly vacated space.
Sandor Earl also came and went from team-sheets at Penrith and has found a new home at Canberra. The winger scored a double in his second game for the club as they beat Melbourne on Saturday night.
Canberra gets a player who has shown he can finish off back-line moves, and Penrith gets some breathing space with their finances, albeit not much.
The reality is that they’ve probably already spent up on bringing in recruits for next season like Lewis Brown. It’s all still part of the cycle.
So, is June 30 still a dirty word? Or have smart operators shown fans its value?
You can follow Luke Doherty on Twitter @Luke_Doherty and on Sky News Australia.
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