NRL trade window needs to advertise the goods
It’s well documented that trying to convince the NRL to adopt a player draft is akin to getting your Dad to trade in his trusty beige 4WD with the lame Yosemite Sam spare tyre cover and pick up a hotted up mid-life-crisis mobile.
Sure, the old man will drone that both serve the same purpose. But, isn’t the latter so much more exciting? The conspiracy theorist in me is convinced that the only reason the AFL adopts a draft is for the extra drama it creates.
The combine results, the media speculation, the nervous spotty teens in ill-fitting suits standing next to their pushy parents praying to God Kevin Sheedy isn’t looking at them.
But alas, it’s all about as likely to happen in rugby league as Nathan Hindmarsh taking Steve Matai trail riding next weekend.
However, while the NRL draft is just a figment of the obsessed fan’s imagination, there is another potentially exciting, underground movement going on right now. It’s the NRL trade window.
Oh, you missed it? That’s because the NRL is letting go a golden chance by not even publicly acknowledging the window, let alone capitalising on it.
For those in the know, the NRL trade window is essentially the couple of weeks leading up to the June 30 player registration deadline. Teams will have a look through their player pantry, realise they forgot to pick up a halfback in the thrill of buying those two-for-one centres, and do a knock around of the other clubs to see if they have any spare.
At the moment it essentially exists as a personal classifieds for footy clubs, and is about as entertaining as those newspaper filler sections not read by anyone under the age of 80.
‘Despr8 coach ISO 5/8 who IPT scoring tries. Must have GSOH. Contact: Stephen.
Where is the fan value in that? Take the Sam Perrett switch from the Roosters to Bulldogs, all very behind closed doors, hush-hush and ethically murky. And how come only the Dogs got a crack at Perrett? Did other teams have the chance to go the poach? My team needs a winger too!
I say let’s add some value for fans and improve clarity by advertising and making a big spectacle out of the unofficial trade period.
I’m thinking a televised auction at one of the big entertainment centres or the casino could be the go, like those bachelor ones bored rich old women’s groups have for charity. Each team could put forward their excess baggage whilst the bean counters sit in the bull pen with their paddles and punters watch on from the bleachers.
Out struts the first sale item in his footy shorts before official NRL auctioneer Ray Hadley takes the mic: “Here’s a fine specimen ladies and gentlemen. Please say hello to Sandor. Sandor is 22 years old, a Paddington junior with a clean pair of hands and 12 months remaining on his contract. If you like your wingers pretty, you’ll be making a star spangled clanger to pass up these fast thighs!”
Cue a bit of fast talking and haggling before SOLD! To the large gentleman up the back with the red face and quickly fading career!
You can’t tell me the fans wouldn’t eat it up, and it would give attending players an excuse to wear their suit more than once a year and quite possibly push the game over the billion dollar mark in their next telly contract.
As usual you’ll have your moaning minnies who’ll want to knock the idea, but should everyone have to scour through the sport section fine print just to know where players are coming and going? If the NRL is going to turn June into a giant footy card swap off they should at least come out and get mileage off of it.
With the way it is currently, even the old man’s crappy old beige 4WD with a boot full of fishing gear is pulling better mileage.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @Vic_Arious
Chris Chard is a sports humour writer commenting on the often absurd nature of professional sport. A rugby league fan boy with a good blend of youth and experience taking things one week at a time, Chris has written for The Roar, Rugby League Player Magazine, US Sports Downunder, the QRL and People. Tweet him @Vic_Arious
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