TIME NRL JOINED DRAFT DAY FUN
“WHAT do you write about over the off- season?”
It’s a question most rugby league writers are asked quite often, especially during the festive period.
The latest circus surrounding the Wayne Bennett- Anthony Seibold coaching swap, for mine, only reinforced the code’s drastic need for a more streamlined transfer network for players and coaches.
I can see the opposing view, that the year- round meat market keeps the NRL front and centre in newspapers and on TV bulletins.
But a transfer window wouldn’t prevent conjecture and rumours of who’s going where swirling around. It would simply turn trades into an event and a real money spinner for the sport.
Have a look at the AFL. They’re the masters at squeezing the lemon dry when it comes to ensuring they remain topical, long after the premiers have walked off the grand final victory stage with their medals.
Their trade and draft period lasts for months, and the theatre is palpable. Fans take delight in debating which club has got the best of each trade, and the final day where teams and player managers scramble to get deals done before deadline is superb drama.
The tension that built as the final minutes ticked by as former Brisbane Lions star Dayne Beams looked to secure a move back to former side Collingwood is the drama the NRL could emulate.
A player transfer window is an initiative that has the full support of Cowboys coach Paul Green, who endorsed it emphatically when I asked him his opinion in April last year.
“I think it could work. There’d have to be a few rules built around it but ( it would) create interest for the fans and I’m sure TV would love to get a hold of it,” Green said.
“You see things like the draft day in the NFL, there could be some excitement built around it.
“That needs to be looked at. When you see players in the preseason in particular signing for another club before we’ve even kicked a ball this year, I don’t think that's a good look for the game.
“Some fans feel disengaged and want to support their team, but they’re not sure how to support those guys knowing they’re going to play for someone else.”
Far too often fans are put in the awkward situation of having to support a player for an entire season after he has already signed with a rival team.
Although the said player may still be committed to the cause, there will always be that perception that his focus, at least partially, lies elsewhere.
Interviewing Josh McGuire after Cowboys training yesterday prompted me to think how dramatic it would be had his move from the Broncos been brokered on TV for everyone to witness as it unfolded.
The current mid- season player transfer deadline should still remain, as it’s an ideal outlet for clubs who may be in need of bolstering a certain position due to injuries.
Players who have fallen out of favour at their current clubs also have the chance to revitalise their career somewhere else immediately, rather than languish in reserve grade for the rest of the season.
The coaching situation is a little tougher to simplify.
It’s illogical to think a coaching transfer window would be viable. There’s just 16 for starters and there’s not enough movement to justify it.
But while the Bennett- Seibold fracas has kept the media happy in the traditional “down” period, it’s a poor look for the game.
It has created irreversible embarrassment for the NRL as other sports berate the game for the farce the situation became.
It has been suggested coaching rules mirror player signings after former Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary signed with Penrith for 2021, despite having two years to run on his contract at Wests Tigers.
Seibold also signed well before his deal ended, and both the Tigers and Rabbitohs eventually granted their main men an early release.
Banning coaches from negotiating deals with other clubs before the November 1 deadline, which players abide by, would be a good start.