14 Mar 2015

Coaches urge change on NRL player moves

12:28 pm on 14 March 2015

The National Rugby League is coming under increasing pressure to solve its player transfer system.

Daly Cherry-Evans

Daly Cherry-Evans Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The likely loss of both halves Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran just one round into the 2015 NRL season is already threatening to scupper perennial finalists Manly's year, leading to Broncos coach Wayne Bennett and his Warriors counterpart Andrew McFadden joining the chorus of disapproval at the state of player movements.

Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey claims the current system, which sets no limits on when a player can sign with an opposition club, needs to be overhauled, after Cherry-Evans informed Manly of his decision to move to the Gold Coast last Friday.

Foran is believed to have pledged his future beyond this season to Parramatta, and former Manly coach Des Hasler, now with Canterbury, also expressed his sympathy for Toovey's plight in 2015.

But seven-time Premiership-winning coach Bennett, one of the most respected figures in the game and a member of the NRL's Competition Committee, is slamming the chaotic player transfer system in the most pointed attack on the status quo yet.

"It's an embarrassment to the game," Bennett says. "If you look across all of world sport, you'll realise most of them do it a hell of a lot better than we do."

"They take no prisoners in soccer in regards to player movement. But they've got rules and windows and opportunities, so it's ridiculous to believe we can't do that."

"It's an indictment on what we're trying to do as football clubs, and the game we're trying to present."

Bennett says players pledging their future to another club a season ahead of joining them had a destabilising effect.

The NRL scrapped the June 30 deadline in 2006 because of its inability to police the anti-tampering policy.

It has been open slather ever since - the only problem with the current state of play is that few seem to have a solution.

Bennett himself didn't commit to a particular system, while Toovey and Hasler didn't offer alternatives when asked.

The NRL's new Head of Game Strategy and Development Shane Richardson is set to explore the possibility of introducing a draft to rugby league in the coming years, which would end the current system.

The Warriors suffered their own destabilisation when five-eighth James Maloney signed with Sydney Roosters for 2013, ahead of the 2012 season.

In that year, the 2011 grand finalists slumped to third last.

"At the moment, if you want to recruit you've got to recruit a long way ahead, so I think a transfer window might be better for the fans and better for the game," McFadden says.

"You've got to look so far ahead and it's probably a bit of a distraction. Not so much for the players, they're pretty resilient, but certainly for the fans.

"It's a distraction and it would be nice if we could have a little more control around those sorts of things."

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