Martin Taupau from Tigers to Manly, Matt Ballin doing the reverse trip, Tim Lafai to the Dragons, Will Hopoate to the Dogs, Dylan Walker to Manly, Sam Burgess back to the Bunnies. These transfers kept the NRL in the headlines this off-season.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Where is James Roberts going to end up? What does his potential move mean for the outside backs at his new club? Is Peter Wallace still going to be in Panthers colours by Round 1?
While unanswered now, in a few weeks these problems will be solved and new ones will probably arise as all 16 teams battle to assemble a premiership-winning roster.
Many are calling for a change to the transfer market, but I haven’t heard of a solution that will work. Like most, I hate hearing of players who have signed for a different over twelve months away, but it is just a reality of the game.
A transfer window has been floated, but it wouldn’t be successful. Yes it works in the AFL, but they don’t have to contend with poachers from rival codes or overseas. Why would an in-form player wait until the end of the season to secure their future, especially when they are only one knee injury away from drastically lowering their market value. This would see Super Rugby and Super League offers more tempting when received mid-season.
We are stuck with the current model, making the off-season merry-go-around – in particular the buying and selling of centres – good for the game, as it keeps the NRL in the headlines for the right reasons at this time of year.
For die-hard league fans that search high and low for league-related stories, it doesn’t really matter, they can get their fix from reading The Roar everyday. But casual league fans and those who haven’t yet fallen in love with the game wake up each day to find league stories on the back page of the paper and as the lead bulletin on sports newsreels. This can only be a good thing.
And it is exciting. How are all the rosters going to end up? How is this going to affect the betting market? Is my club inline for any last-minute signings?
This season is shaping as one of the closest ever. Of the 16 clubs, 13 have genuine merits of making the top eight (sorry Titans, Tigers and Knights fans). While I can’t wait for March to roll around so we can get the season underway, all this transfer talk is whetting my appetite and keeping me interested.