Billy Moore has branded it a “disgrace” that NRL players can sign with rival clubs a year in advance as the league legend strongly advocated for trade windows.
The former Maroons forward has spoken out after several players recently announced they’d be moving clubs in 2023 at the completion of their current deals.
Eels pair Isaiah Papali’i and Marata Niukore will switch to the Wests Tigers and Warriors respectively following a swansong campaign in blue and gold while young Sharks playmaker Luke Metcalf is also heading across the ditch in about 12 months’ time.
Premiership-winning Penrith second-rower Viliame Kikau is off to Canterbury in ’23. Many Panthers fans were far from pleased when a photo leaked late last week showing the forward in a Bulldogs polo alongside coach Trent Barrett and general manager Phil Gould.
As it stands, players can formally negotiate with rival clubs when they come off contract on November 1. ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys told the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday that the current trade model “is not the right balance”.
Any changes to the system will be discussed by the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) when they renegotiate the game’s collective bargaining agreement, which ends in 2022.
The RLPA could argue that players only have a short timespan to maximise their earnings. If they’re forced to wait to sign contracts, injuries or form could negatively impact their salary.
While V’landys acknowledged that viewpoint, Moore is pushing for drastic change.
“Anyone who looks into the fish bowl that is rugby league sees that contracts have become meaningless,” Moore told AAP.
“I’ve been vocal about this for a long time and the system is a disgrace. The biggest losers are the fans and sponsors and the only person who benefits from it is the player’s manager.
“There is no other sport in the world where people sign a contract the best part of a year in advance and then play out their current contract.
“It’s a fallacy to say when the (contract’s final) season ends you can’t go find a new club and move your family if you need to.”
The solution, according to Moore, is having specific end-of-season and mid-year periods for player movement.
“I’m a big fan of trading windows because it concentrates the energy around the movement of players, rather than it happening all year long,” he said.
“On the Monday after the grand final the circus can start and clubs can begin trading and making deals for next season.
“You look at the AFL and the English Premier League and the amount of publicity they generate is extraordinary.
“Nobody’s actually playing yet it gets all the column inches.
“Then I’d have one midway through the season, which allows for adjustments inside your roster to compensate for injuries.”