NRL to open window for trade frenzy
THE NRL's off-season could become a player market frenzy if plans to introduce a trade window are successful.
The NRL confirmed they would explore the possibility of a trade window which would revamp the way players move clubs.
Their first hurdle though will be convincing the RLPA to support the move with the association dead against introducing any type of trade window. NRL boss Todd Greenberg said there was an "unanimous feeling among the clubs that we need to take this opportunity to really consider what the player contracting model looks like and the trade windows".
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While there was nothing formally proposed as the NRL met with the 16 club bosses, The Daily Telegraph has learnt there could be two trade windows each season.
One system would include a player market window from the Monday after the grand final until kick-off in round one.
That would mean the likes of current off-contract players including Jordan Rapana, Joel Thompson, Dylan Walker, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Issac Luke would not be able a deal with a rival club until after the grand final.
There would also be a mid-season trade window - either side of the final State of Origin match - which would allow clubs to negotiate the immediate swapping of clubs of contracted players or sign with an opposition team for the following year.
It would also end the traditional June 30 deadline for mid-season switches. Players can re-sign with their current clubs at any stage.
Greenberg said the biggest gripe among the clubs had been about players who had signed for rival clubs for the next year even before a ball had been kicked off in the current season - such as Angus Crichton's decision to join the Roosters this year.
"That hurts the fans," Greenberg said. "The fans find that frustrating. As do the clubs.
"We would be negligent if we didn't find opportunities to work on that."
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While clubs may be confined to windows of announcing signings, Greenberg said there was no way to stop them from negotiating with players before the trade window opens.
"I am not suggesting I am going to be stopping clubs and coaches have coffee shop meetings," Greenberg said.
"That is never going to stop. What I am suggesting is there are periods of time during the year where we openly announce them, talk about them and disclose them. I am not going to be able to stop the innuendo in your column next week about player Y talking to coach X. That will happen.
"It has happened for 100 years and it will keep happening. That is not what the rules are designed to do. What the rules are designed to do is to put some structure in that. I think the fans will enjoy that and I think they would appreciate it. And I think we can build - and this is the most important thing - some valuable content for the future if we do it the right way."
The change would impact a small amount of players. In the past two years 125 players signed a contract with a new club in their final contracted season. Of this amount, only eight were signed before March 1 and 36 were signed between March 1 and June 30.
Greenberg also promised life bans for any fan or official found guilty of racially vilifying someone.