Would an NRL draft work to overhaul transfer problems?

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

 , , ,

94 Have your say

Popular article! 5,170 reads

    Can Greg Inglis emulate the feats of previous Souths greats to win his side their first premiership in 43 years? AAP Image/Action Photographics, Colin Whelan

    Related coverage

    Local boys becoming local heroes has long been one of the catch phrases used by Australian Rugby League Commission chief executive David Gallop.

    (Yes, that is Gallop’s new title: ARLCCEO. Catchy isn’t it?)

    Rugby league has boasted that it’s not a sport that packs a bunch of 18-year olds into a room and sends them off to far away cities.

    Rugby League is a game where people like Luke Lewis and Anthony Minichiello can represent teams in their area. They live, work and play not far from where it all began in the backyard. 

    No-one can argue with the merit of the boast. It’s fine when these players are coming into first grade. The real problem arises when those young guns turn in to established stars.

    St George Illawarra centre (even though he’s really a better second-rower) Beau Scott’s decision to sign with Newcastle from the 2013 season has re-ignited calls for the NRL to introduce a post-season draft similar to the AFL, NBA and NFL.

    Last season, the announcement that James Maloney would be moving from the Warriors to the Roosters in 2013 was even more farcical.

    Scott and Maloney now have to play full seasons with their respective clubs while fans question their motivation week in and week out.

    It’s not a good look for the code, but how do you stop it?

    The old June 30 deadline was a joke and doesn’t work either, but an end of season trade period is difficult on players and their families.

    Players lives are uprooted, albeit most of the time by choice, and they’d be forced to find new schools and homes within weeks instead of months

    The question of player loyalty is also a dubious one.

    Certain players will openly tell you that while loyalty is meant to be a two way street it rarely is.

    Clubs often show no mercy in selling player to free up cap space to purchase another.

    Why should a player not be able to secure certainty when it’s on offer?

    A full draft isn’t necessarily the answer.

    It should still be possible for local heroes to become local stars much to the relief of the ARLCCEO (is that the longest abbreviated title ever?).

    The problem doesn’t lie with the need to ensure young talent is evenly spread across the clubs. A replica of the AFL National Draft, while interesting, isn’t really required in the NRL.

    It’s the timing of the announcements regarding established stars that is the real issue.

    The NRL could introduce a system similar to the AFL pre-season draft, but with some variations.

    The AFL pre-season draft is for uncontracted players and teams who do poorly are usually given the chance to sign players from that pool as well.

    The NRL would need to loosely adopt this policy if it was to move in a draft direction at all.

    If a player like Beau Scott decided he no longer wanted to be at the Dragons or was confident of getting a better deal elsewhere he could nominate for the end of season trade period.

    Clubs that are interested could then begin negotiations.

    Even that appears to be a revamped and drawn out June 30 deadline though.

    Every suggestions appears imperfect. It seems either the fans or the players have to lose.

    Choosing which one will be tricky.

    Do you find yourself logged out of The Roar?
    We have just switched over to a secure site (https). This means you will need to log-in afresh. If you need help with recovering your password, please get in contact.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (94)

    • March 12th 2012 @ 7:38am
      oikee said | March 12th 2012 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      I was just reading this morning we need a tranfer window. I agree.

      But no to a draft, and here is why; you are taking kids away from their families, and our game deals with two lots of indigenous players who are family orientated: Islanders and Aborigines.

      You only have to look at the AFL and what havoc it is causing to realise that a draft is the worse possible thing the NRL could introduce into the game. It would cause havoc, down the track you would be dealing with family issues, as the AFL is and have to do. It is tearing indigenous Australians apart.

      Anyone who wants a draft are either mad, or have no idea.

      A transfer window is fine, the under 20’s is helping smooth the way for young kids (players) to understand playing away from home and getting used to the NRL grind.

      You dont want to upset this balance, a Draft would cause kaos.

      Transfer window is all we need. Dont mess with family structures, it will cause more problems than it is worth.

    • March 12th 2012 @ 7:51am
      steve b said | March 12th 2012 @ 7:51am | ! Report

      Well said oikee.

      (Please don’t use all caps in comments, thanks. Roar Mods.)

    • March 12th 2012 @ 8:16am
      jamesb said | March 12th 2012 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      certainly a transfer window, perhaps middle of the year or at the end of the season. Last season, the tigers were affected by this with the growing uncertainty of the futures of varoius players such as Gibbs, Fulton, Moltzen

    • March 12th 2012 @ 8:38am
      B.A Sports said | March 12th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      Thinking on the run, but what if there was a draft system of some sort but only players over the age of say 21, or players who had not been offered a contract under the age of 21 could enter? Spread some talent around and get some guys who might be late developer’s a chance to impress. You maybe even have a draft game which players can elect to play in and coaches and scouts will watch.

      By the way Anthony Minichello is a western suburbs boy – born and raised.

      And if the NRL really cared about players being able to play in their backyards, more would have been done to force clubs to invest in their grass roots programs (ie St George, Manly, Canterbury), not watch them fall apart and pilfer players from the strong junior programs.

      • Roar Guru

        March 12th 2012 @ 9:00am
        The Cattery said | March 12th 2012 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        That’s a terrific idea BA – a draft for those who are yet to sign a contract – it achieves two important things:
        1. it’s a shop window for clubs with less resources, needing to spend less on scouting and recruitment; and
        2. it would not be contestable in the courts, because it’s not impinging on the rights of those capable of securing better contracts, the draft ends up being for the rest, and they go in their willingly.

      • March 12th 2012 @ 11:15am
        oikee said | March 12th 2012 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        The game has scouts now doing this work. The game has got to strengthen our 2 state codes, which they are going about right now as we speak. With the draft we are more concerned about players in country areas, not so much Sydney or other big cities.
        You cant take a player like Chris Sandow, at the age of 17 or 22 and plonk him over in Perth or NZ for that matter, something you guys never thought about with the draft System. No to draft, and it is time we put Draftty to bed, for good.
        It wont work, and it is a family wrecker.

        • Roar Guru

          March 12th 2012 @ 12:16pm
          The Cattery said | March 12th 2012 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

          How would you set up a team in Perth if you aren’t sending players from the Eastern states.

          Where does the Storm get most of its players?

          • March 12th 2012 @ 1:40pm
            oikee said | March 12th 2012 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            It will take awhile to develop the youth systems, but once you have a team, you can then grow the youth teams. I think you will find that Perth have a youth development program already, under 18’s so far.
            Even the Gold coast had to bring in players from outside, they are still doing it, maybe that is where they are going wrong.
            For every Sandow their is 10 Aboriginal kids who wont go interstate. Ian, i dont want to argue the point, but their family network is very important to the Indigernous kids, they get lost pretty quickly.

        • March 12th 2012 @ 1:14pm
          Ian Whitchurch said | March 12th 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

          As opposed to taking Chris Sandow from Cherbourg and moving him to the Gold Coast ? Oh. Wait.

          • March 12th 2012 @ 3:15pm
            mike from tari said | March 12th 2012 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

            Just one thing on Chris Sandow to set you straight, he was already playing under 14’s, 15’s & 16’s, then colts for 1/2 a season, the Q.cup for Souths in Brisbane before he went to the Titans, so he did not go from Cherbourg to Titans. I know a few kids who were signed at 16 by the roosters, the eeels & taken to Sydney & most of them came back to Redcliffe because they were not looked after very well by the NRL clubs, so dont just have a go at the AFL taking kids in the draft ( I’m not an AFL fan), the Broncos used to sign up the kids and put them in the colts comp with one of the clubs, then decided that it was best to sign them & let them stay with their club in Brisbane, this has strengthened the colts comp by evening out the teams.

            • March 12th 2012 @ 3:30pm
              Ian Whitchurch said | March 12th 2012 @ 3:30pm | ! Report


              Yeah, it is a bit more complex than just going from Cherbourg to the Gold Coast – but he was just one example of a player who didnt develop because the structures werent in place.

              With a national draft, you *have* to develop those structures, as you arent getting those picks back if they go back to Redcliffe.

              With the way the NRL goes, you’re out a not very expensive youth contract, so you can get away with being soft, lazy and stupid – so thats what happens.

    • March 12th 2012 @ 8:58am
      Paul said | March 12th 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

      Its a professional sport so if a player wants to earn the big bucks he has to be prepared to play anywhere. In saying that i dont think a draft is the answer for to many reasons to list. All we need to worry about is the fans. They are what makes the game, and it is unfair to any fan to lose a player before a ball has been kicked or mid season. How are the dragons fans now suppose to enjoy watching beau scot play and cheer him on? Every time he makes a mistake the fans will question his application. its human nature. I dont know what the answer is except players come and go where they can maximise thier earning potential. I dont care for the argument of securing your future either, its all part of being a professional sportsman so if a player cant handle it get a trade.

    • March 12th 2012 @ 9:33am
      Will Sinclair said | March 12th 2012 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      if the NRL introduced long required salary cap concessions for local juniors it would help ease a lot of the problems.

      Players could stay with their local teams for life, rather than being forced out mid-season due to salary cap constraints.

      • March 12th 2012 @ 9:42am
        Matt F said | March 12th 2012 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        The problem with that solution is that some clubs have a much bigger junior base then others, which would create an uneven playing field. If they could find a way so that every club could have access to a smilar number of juniors then it could work. Clubs like Penrith, Parramatta and Brisbane would have a significant advantage over clubs like the Roosters and Melbourne.

        Another solution could be to offer a discount (or a greater discount) on players who have been at a club for a long period of time. if a player has been at a club for 5 years (starting after their 1st NRL match) then 20 % of his salary is not included in the cap. A 10 year player gets 50%.

        • March 12th 2012 @ 10:58am
          mushi said | March 12th 2012 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          The other thing is it actually creates a war chest that enables you to poach other players. You lock up three guys on contracts all of a sudden you get 20% of their salaries extra to your cap to poach players who have yet to hit the milestone.

          It also ignores that a junior base is amongst the best advantage you can get in a salary cap environment.

          • March 12th 2012 @ 11:27am
            Matt F said | March 12th 2012 @ 11:27am | ! Report

            They could do that, though the reason why many clubs lose those players is because other clubs can offer them more. The vast majority of that 20% would more then likely be used on retaining the junior in question. Having said that it doesn’t have to be 20%, it could be 10%, or anything really. 5 years is probably a little soon for discounts in the cap though. There should still be one for the 10 year players.

            • March 12th 2012 @ 12:01pm
              mushi said | March 12th 2012 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

              But they don’t lose all of them do they? So for every player they don’t enter into a bidding war on you just give them free cap space to plunder other teams. Interestingly on a team with mainly 5 and 10 year plus players their combined “exemptions” would be more than sufficient to create space to lure a 10 year super star from a team that has fewer qualifying players.

              Plus the unless the team is 100% born and bred from that junior base haven’t they used the money they could have paid the junior done good on the product of another club?

              Ie in 2011 you sign Hired Gun for 200k from your rival. The next year the team is bleating because it can’t match the 50k increase in salary for Local Boy. If you give them an exemption then you effectively allow them to pilfer Hired Gun and retain Local Boy.

              A strong junior base is already the biggest advantage as you get as you get as you get a first grade to rep football production on reserve grade salary for a little while, and it still generally costs less to keep a player than attract one.

              Also the whole idea of the cap is that it restricts the allocation of revenues to players to a certain amount so putting in place these kind of arrangements means you then have to reduce the cap.

              • March 12th 2012 @ 12:51pm
                Matt F said | March 12th 2012 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

                personally I can live with the syste the way it is. Suggestions that Beau Scott is just going to tank for the rest of the season are ludicrous and players are professional enough to realise that so it won’t really effect his team mates (many of whom have also moved clubs before.) Most other systems put forward seem impractical and a June 30 style deadline won’t stop players from signing with other clubs. They’ll just lie to all of us until the deadline passes. I’m just suggesting a system that may be able to increase player loyalty somewhat and also be easy to manage.

                As I said in my last comment, I can live without the 5 year one. In hindshight it does seem a little short. How many 10 year players are really out there though? How many one club players?

                Besides the system itself can be adjusted. If 50% off all 10 year players a club can take it off only one or two players? We’ve already got “marquee player” 3rd party top ups that some clubs can use better then others. Why not change this to a “veteran player” agreement instead?

                I’m not sure where the real advantage for developing your own talent st when you can put years of effort into a player who then leaves after only 1-2 seasons. Giving concessions for long-term players can allow these clubs a greater chance to hold on to these juniors.

              • March 12th 2012 @ 3:42pm
                mushi said | March 12th 2012 @ 3:42pm | ! Report

                Okay the advantage of developing juniors is twofold the first being that there are very few human beings in the world motivated entirely by money. Generally you have to over pay to get someone to leave a job and generally you have the ability to negotiate with them before they test the free market (this happens routinely in the NRL). So the team retaining the player has a clear advantage in retaining the player at a cost below what the market will pay because of both opportunity and “value” of the status quo.

                The second is that when they are young players you are getting a massive outperformance. If you have a young player that is capable of being solid first grader or better then even if it is for only 2 years you receive a huge advantage as you are getting a performance level well above his salary. Now if you have a pipeline of juniors you can routinely have several slots filled with these young outperformers enabling you to field a higher value team under a salary cap.

              • March 12th 2012 @ 4:24pm
                Matt F said | March 12th 2012 @ 4:24pm | ! Report

                I take your second point but I’m not convinced about your first one.

                Whilst it’s true that very few people are motivated entirely by money, it’s naive to think it isn’t a major factor in the NRL. When the difference in contracts is anything greater then 20k+ a year it’s going to have a serious impact. We can talk about loyalty all we like but every player has a price, as they should. Then there’s the fact that a football career is at most about 15 years. The vast majority of players won’t earn anywhere near that kind of money again so realise that they need to maximise their earnings now to set them up for the future. The fact that we have players signing with clubs almost a year in advance (more in Maloney’s case) shows that the advantage to negotiate with your own players first doesn’t really exist as they can field offers at any time, plus all players now have agents that will do whatever they can to get the best fianncial deal for their client and will negotiate with anyone who’s interested. As soon as their client gets an offer from a club they’re on the phone to the other clubs to shop them around.

              • March 12th 2012 @ 5:33pm
                mushi said | March 12th 2012 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

                I’m not saying it doesn’t play any part just that if it is not the only factor then being the incumbent is an advantage. And in a constricted system like a salary cap that advantage is magnified. Even then at 20k per player (I don’t think we can even begin to make an educated guess at quantifying the maximum benefit) that is still more than 10% of the average salary and a huge advantage.

                Also players aren’t open to field offers at any time without flaunting the rules of the NRL. Players can only sign in advance where the club gives them permission and are therefore happy to let them go.

                Also with agents never assume that an agent wants to maximise the contract. They want to maximise their total number of contracts which can mean getting players to lock in extensions earlier to guarantee commissions and allow them to move onto the next negotiation in a finite world under a salary cap.

              • March 12th 2012 @ 8:35pm
                Matt F said | March 12th 2012 @ 8:35pm | ! Report

                Players are open to offers and can sign a contract with another club at any time, as long as the new contract commences after their current one expires. Beau Scott has already signed with Newcastle but that contract doesn’t commence until after the completion of his current one with the Dragons. The Dragons had no say in whether or not he could sign the contract with Newcastle because it comes into effect after his current one expires. The only way they could have a say on when he speaks with another club is if there is a clause in his existing contract forbidding the player (or a representative on his behalf) from doing so. I

                The agent is there to do the right thing by their client. If the player wants to take less money to stay at his current club, or even to move to a new club (which some do) then the agent will make it happen. Agents will however always try to get as many options as possible for their client, which in general, means the most money. If a player finds out that their agent got them a deal for less then they could have received, all because the agent wanted to get another of their clients into that club on decent money as well, then the agent is in serious trouble.

    , , ,