Hey, NRL: fix the con­tract cir­cus!

Play­ers & fans suf­fer when stars sign on long be­fore jump­ing ship to an­other club

Rugby League Week - - News -

IHAVE NO DRAMA WITH BEN Hunt leav­ing the Bron­cos and we wish him all the best at the Dragons – but I’m not a fan of play­ers sign­ing con­tracts so far out from leav­ing the club they’re at.

If you and your manager want to ne­go­ti­ate with other clubs be­hind closed doors through­out the year, that’s fine, as long as it’s kept pri­vate and doesn’t put added stress on other play­ers. But there’s no doubt all the spec­u­la­tion and ru­mour cre­ates a dis­trac­tion for other foot­ballers when it’s out in the open.

We’re not in this game for a long pe­riod of time and your ca­reer can end in one tackle or one run, so blokes are en­ti­tled to try to se­cure their fu­ture. Lots of guys don’t have the ed­u­ca­tion be­hind them to go and get an­other job once their ca­reer is over, so they have ev­ery right to cash in while they can and set them­selves up.

The whole de­bate around deals be­ing done a year in ad­vance is an­other drama the game needs to get on top of. It’s a huge dis­trac­tion not only to play­ers, but fans, who get re­ally dis­ap­pointed as well.

Plenty of Bron­cos fans have fol­lowed Ben from un­der-20s right through his ca­reer and for them to learn the way they did that this will be his last year at the club was tough to take.

Most of our fans will be be­hind him but there will be some who turn on him a bit and you don’t want to see that hap­pen to your team-mates. The best thing for Ben to do is go out on the field and show ev­ery­one he’s worth the sort of money he’s go­ing to be get­ting at the Dragons.

The fact is there’s no se­crecy in our game any­more. Ev­ery­one knows ev­ery­one’s busi­ness and you’ve got no hope of keep­ing con­tract talks quiet.

I know Ben was filthy that some­one got wind of his move be­fore he had a chance to talk to the team. I’m sure he would’ve liked to tell us him­self but he doesn’t need to ex­press to us in words that he’ll be fully com­mit­ted to the Bron­cos this sea­son – he’ll do that by his ac­tions on the field, week-in, week-out.

Speak­ing of get­ting out on the field, I’m look­ing for­ward to be­ing there my­self next week for our game against War­ring­ton in the World Club Se­ries.

I’ve had a good break now since I got in­jured at the Four Na­tions and I’ve done a stack of work on my fit­ness to get ready for the sea­son.

Ob­vi­ously it was up­set­ting to miss the Four Na­tions fi­nal but it made me stop and have a rest and I came back to train­ing re­freshed.

Wayne asked me at the start of the pre-sea­son how I’d like to struc­ture things and I said I’d like to have a cou­ple of ex­tra weeks of train­ing to build my fit­ness base rather than play­ing in trial matches.

I’ve been around long enough now to know how to get through a match and pace my­self, so I don’t need many tri­als. I’m only go­ing to play the one trial match against War­ring­ton and it will be good to be in Eng­land with the boys. Watch­ing the Nines made me a bit itchy to play so I’m look­ing for­ward to hav­ing a run. It’s a long trip but we use it as a bit of a pre-sea­son camp and a chance to spend time with the 16 or 17 blokes who are likely to run out for round one.

I’ve been do­ing a fair bit of car­dio work and now that I’m over 30 I can use my “rugby league pen­sioner card” and get a day off for my legs ev­ery now and then.

It’s good do some work on the bike rather than be­ing pun­ished on the track ev­ery day of the week.

And speak­ing of pen­sion­ers, it’s good to have Benji Mar­shall around the place! It’s a rare thing to have an­other 30-odd-year-old at the club and he’s been great at train­ing.

Hav­ing a pre­mier­ship-winner and World Cup-winner nip­ping at their heels will keep Hunt and Mil­ford on their toes. He may be a veteran but with age comes wis­dom and I reckon Benji will be great for us this sea­son.

“Some Bron­cos fans will turn on Ben a bit and you don’t want to see that hap­pen”

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