The Roar
The Roar


SMITHY: The NRL has become a scene out of Trading Places

Remember the good old days of The Pest and Fitzy? Country will take on City for the last time. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
4th June, 2014
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The circumstances of a couple of NRL players at opposite ends of their careers give us something to think about, as we all tend to do when judging them professionally and as people without knowing them.

Now I might be way off the mark, but I was told today by a source (I won’t have to let you know whether it’s reliable or not) that 300-game veteran John Morris is about to return to Parramatta.


With the loss of Nathan Peats, the Eels sure need to do something about that dummy-half position.

At the other end of the career spectrum, Souths rookie Apisai Koroisau has made the decision to leave the Rabbitohs for a Panthers jersey in 2015. Nothing unusual about that one, I guess, as many young guys need to move on when parked behind an international and club fixture such as Issac Luke.

From one end these moves make sense, but the motivation and reasoning behind them is strange from the other side.

Initially with Koroisau I thought, well, Kevin Kingston is retiring so that makes sense. But the Panthers have only this season purchased James Segayaro on a three-year deal.

Doesn’t that leave the young Souths dummy-half in the same position as back-up to the main man? Couldn’t he have stayed where he is, settled in at a great club and continued his development in a set-up he fully understands?

And just how adjustable is Johnny Morris!


Moving at this stage of the season is never easy, but if anyone could do it smoothly I am sure it’s him. The reasoning from Parramatta is sound, they need an experienced hooker right now. But why Morris? And why would the Sharks let him go?

Perhaps Bulldog Michael Ennis is coming for 2015 but why before June 30 and now? Maybe the Sharks are saving some valuable salary-cap space.

Maybe you and I will never know exactly what went on to cause these shuffles because often there are personal and private circumstances involved.

It will be interesting to see whether the Sharks to Eels transfer has something more in it for the 300-game former Eel utility. Perhaps Parra have offered him an extra year or two on top of the remainder of this season to make it a lucrative deal for him.

Likewise, it could be that the Panthers feel that Segayaro is a better player coming off the bench so they may have indicated to Koroisau that he will get first crack at the number 9 jersey.

Wouldn’t that change things and be a great carrot for the young Fijian to leave the Rabbits?

That whole Trading Places theme around number nines is crazy, with Ennis tipped to be leaving the Dogs to be replaced by young Shark talent Michael Lichaa.

Meanwhile, Canberra must be wondering what’s going on with recruitment after being rejected a few times in recent days. It sounds like it’s not been for the lack of money offered, as the Raiders have gone the pot in an effort to change the team’s fortunes in 2015.


So what went wrong?

First, Melbourne’s Kevin Proctor and now Tiger James Tedesco have exercised the NRL rule allowing players to agree to sign but renege prior to Round 13.

In coach Ricky Stuart’s case, it must be déjà vu of the most disturbing kind. Josh Papalii did the same thing to the then-Eels coach when he reneged on a move from the Raiders at this time last season.

It must be pretty tough for everyone at the Raiders including their fans to deal with right now. You would have to wonder what the current playing roster is thinking as they prepare for another big game at home this weekend.

The fans will hardly be inspired to attend despite the match being so vital to Canberra’s chances of a rally towards the play-offs.

One thing for certain in this completely free player trading market, almost totally unregulated: there will be way more ups and downs, ins and outs as the rest of this season unfolds.