Hey, NRL: fix the contract circus!
Players & fans suffer when stars sign on long before jumping ship to another club
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”