Phil Gould tore into the NRL as “amateurish” over the lack of a plan to help the Dolphins as the expansion team continues to struggle in its bid to recruit top-end talent for 2023.
The Canterbury general manager took head office to task for not helping the league’s 17th team enough as it gears up for its foundation season under coach Wayne Bennett.
Gould, speaking in his role as an NRL commentator on 100% Footy, said the NRL should have given the Dolphins added assistance like the AFL has done when it expanded into new regions with the GWS Giants and Gold Coast Suns.
The Dolphins have gone close to signing several big names but have missed out with Ryan Matterson the latest to say no, staying with Parramatta.
Brandon Smith, Kalyn Ponga, Harry Grant, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Jahrome Hughes and Herbie Farnworth are among a host of NRL stars who have held discussions with Bennett and recruitment chief Peter O’Sullivan before rejecting their offers.
“I think the way the league has gone about its expansion project is absolutely amateurish in the extreme,” he said.
“There’s no draft, there’s no salary cap dispensation, there’s no draft choices. When they [the AFL] put GWS into Western Sydney, the advantages and the amount of investment they put in to make the new franchise work was incredible.
“We’ve got no plan to bring a new team in. We hand it to Redcliffe and say catch and kill your own.
“Firstly they needed two years if you’re going to do it this way. They need two years to be able to recruit and get ready to have a competitive team, to attract talent. They needed two years of players coming off contract, not one.
“But secondly there’s no plan around what it’s going to look like in two, five, 10, 15 years time or even if it’ll still exist in that time. That’s the key for me.”
Gould said the game was not set up to allow the lower-ranked teams to improve.
“We have top teams feeding on bottom teams, the whole system is wrong. The whole system of recruitment and development is wrong yet we go and put in a 17th team.”
He said the NRL had not learned from the mistakes of the past when teams were thrown together at the end of the Super League war, such as the disastrous Northern Eagles joint venture between the Bears and Manly.
Gould is in favour of expansion to 17 and 18 teams in the coming years but said the new clubs were doomed to fail without strategic help.
Former NSW representative Tyrone Peachey looks set to leave the Wests Tigers just months into a two-year deal.
The club has told Peachey he is free to take up offers elsewhere and will not stand in his way if he secures a contract before the August 1 deadline for mid-season transfers, according to a News Corp report.
He has been in and out of the NRL line-up this season and has played just eight games after a three-year stint at Gold Coast.
The 30-year-old veteran, who has racked up 187 NRL appearances after earlier stints at Cronulla and Penrith, represented the Blues in all three matches of the 2018 series during his final season at the Panthers but has struggled to recapture that form ever since.
After the recent sacking of coach Michael Maguire, the Tigers allowed Luciano Leilua a mid-season release to join the Cowboys.
Brett Kimmorley is seeing out the season as interim coach as the Tigers try to sign Panthers assistant Cameron Ciraldo to a long-term deal from 2023 onwards.
The International Rugby League has issued a statement, announcing transgender athletes will not be able to play in Tests and the World Cup.
On the back of FINA making a similar ruling for swimming, the IRL said until further research was conducted into the issue, players who have transitioned from male to female would not be permitted to play in the international arena.
“The IRL is continuing work to review and update rules about transgender participation in women’s international rugby league and will seek to use the upcoming World Cup to help develop a comprehensive inclusion policy,” the IRL announced in a statement issued to its affiliated nations.
“Until further research is completed to enable the IRL to implement a formal transgender inclusion policy, male-to-female (transwomen) players are unable to play in sanctioned women’s international rugby league matches.”
The IRL said it had considered several recent developments in world sport in reaching its decision and based it around the IOC’s publication of its November 2021 Framework on Fairness, Non-Discrimination and Inclusion on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sex Variations.
“The IOC concluded that it is the remit of each sport and its governing body to determine how an athlete may be at a disproportionate advantage compared with their peers – taking into consideration the differing nature of each sport.
“In the interests of avoiding unnecessary welfare, legal and reputational risk to International Rugby League competitions, and those competing therein, the IRL believes there is a requirement and responsibility to further consult and complete additional research before finalising its policy.
“The IRL reaffirms its belief that rugby league is a game for all and that anyone and everyone can play our sport.
“It is the IRL’s responsibility to balance the individual’s right to participate – a long-standing principle of rugby league and at its heart from the day it was established – against perceived risk to other participants, and to ensure all are given a fair hearing.
“The IRL will continue to work towards developing a set of criteria, based on best possible evidence, which fairly balance the individual’s right to play with the safety of all participants.”