Making sense of the NRL’s transfer silly season
The current NRL transfer system is ridiculous. Because players can sign for another team nearly a season in advance, it would appear that most of the off contract players in the NRL have already been snapped up.
The picks of the bunch appear to be Justin Poore, David Stagg, Maurice Blair, Shane Shackleton, Travis Waddell and Matt Groat, who is otherwise known as the winner of the “Best impersonation of a tackle bag” award in 2012.
David Stagg would be a good replacement for someone like Nathan Hindmarsh at the Eels or Luke Lewis at Penrith.
He would possibly even be an astute signing for the Warriors, where he could impart some experience and a serious work ethic on a young and talented pack, Michael Luck style.
Shane Shackleton is crying out for a chance.
The former City representative forward had a few good seasons at the Roosters and was a prized recruit for Parramatta for the 2010 season.
A season-ending injury in his first game was a bad omen for the rest of his time there. He went to Penrith in mid-2012, and is unsigned for next season as a result. This has all the ingredients for a Craig Bellamy style makeover.
Maurice Blair is a handy centre who can hold his own without really offering too much special. He is a player who will be bought for depth, rather than a starting position.
With Brisbane losing Beale, T’eo and Gagai, and with Hodges frequently injured, the Broncos’ centre stocks could use some bolstering.
With the Tigers using five hookers last year, why not sign young Travis Waddell? He couldn’t be any worse than Politoni, Fulton (at hooker), Humble or Iosefa.
Matt Groat and Justin Poore will find it hard to even get a run at Centrelink, but Ben Roberts played 19 games last season so there is surely hope for the human tackle bag and his mate Justin!
So, with the duds out of the way, is there no one left to sign? Not necessarily.
Trent Hodkinson is clearly surplus to Des Hasler’s requirements, and he is taking a huge chunk out of the already bulging Canterbury salary cap. With genuine halfbacks being such a rare commodity in rugby league, there should be a few clubs willing to fork out for him.
With Hornby’s retirement and the Tigers’ lack of a halfback for the whole of last season, St George and Wests would be obvious contenders. Selling Hodkinson would enable the Dogs to top up the contract of Ben Barba, or of any good juniors who are coming through.
Kalifa Faifai Loa is contracted to the Cowboys for another two seasons, but last year he played a measly six games. Behind try scoring machines Ashley Graham and Antonio Winterstein, he found it hard to crack first grade last year.
A New Zealand international, he is too good to be playing Queensland Cup. With no Goodwin and Wright, the Bulldogs appear to have a starting wing spot available. So too do the Tigers, with Lote Tuqiri ageing, Koroibete still quite green and Beau Ryan Cronulla-bound.
Chad Townsend, Sam Williams and Daniel Mortimer are all quality halves who, unfortunately for them, are languishing behind better halves. Jeff Robson, Terry Campese and James Maloney will only give opportunites to their understudies through injury.
Something tells me the silly season isn’t over yet.
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