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Opinion

Is player swapping moral?

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Roar Rookie
13th February, 2021
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1353 Reads

In NRL season 2020 we experienced a phenomenon known as player swapping.

Wests Tigers outside back Paul Momirovski was exchanged for Melbourne Storm hooker in waiting Harry Grant. Having been given the Peter V’landys ‘yeah, sure, why not’ seal of approval, the clubs were given permission to allow their own contracted players to play for another club in the same competition.

The Storm had felt they were light on depth in the backs and also would not be able to find a regular spot on the bench for young Grant, who was of course behind 80-minute player and Storm captain Cameron Smith.

For their part the Wests Tigers had been unable to find and were unwilling to develop a new dummy half. Also the Wests Tigers have a strange fetish for sending world-class backs to the Melbourne Storm. Think flying fox Josh Addo-Carr and current Wallaby Marika Koroibete.

While Momirovski may not yet be in that class, he is a quality player. He was head and shoulders above most players for the Tigers in 2019 and should have been the Tigers’ player of the year.

So the big swinging Storm and Tigers swapped sons for a year and it was a win-win scenario. Momirovski would strengthen the Storm backs and have a chance at a winning a premiership.

Harry Grant would earn his first grade stripes and his development would be fast tracked, so that by the time Cameron Smith stepped down, Grant would already have a full season of first grade under his belt. Yep, win-win… for the Storm.

Harry Grant looks on

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

The obvious reality was that in 2021 the Tigers would be in the same boat, except rather than having blooded their own up-and-coming dummy halves, they would instead be a further 12 months behind in their own player development in the vital number nine jersey.

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Harry Grant played terrifically well for the Tigers. He was raw but with obvious talent. By the end of the season he had developed so well as a player that he earned representative selection. He came off the bench for Queensland in the deciding State of Origin match of 2020.

As for Momirovski, he scored four tries in six games for the Storm before his season ended cruelly when a torn finger tendon sidelined him for 12 weeks. Although Momirovski was unable to break back into the premiership-bound Storm line-up, he can still lay claim to his second premiership in three seasons. He had also been part of the 2018 Roosters playing roster and scored two tries in his two appearances for the Tricolours.

After season 2020 Momirovski came home, but Momirovski’s Tigers homecoming was short lived. Last week he was again offered as part of a player swap for 2021. He and Panther Daine Laurie have been traded for one another. They had their contracts exchanged. This time it was a slightly less tawdry affair. It was more of an arrangement than a swap. It was not a loan, but a more permanent vacation.

I wish Paul Momirovski all the best for his future. He is wonderfully talented and a whole-hearted player. In NRL season 2021 he gets a chance to win his third premiership with a third different club in a four-season stretch, and is more than a fair chance to do so.

As for Harry Grant, he seems destined for greatness. His performance in the State of Origin decider was dynamic. After coming on in the 25th minute of Game 3, his speed and skill from dummy half made him a constant threat and turned the contest in Queensland’s favour.

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He is now a fully fledged representative player with a full season of first grade under his belt. His talent is such that legendary dummy half Cameron Smith has been given the tap on the shoulder and been told it’s time to go, as Melbourne look to the future.

As for Wests Tigers coach Michael Maguire, the Melbourne Storm and Queensland have a message for you. Thank you, we are forever in your debt.