NRL Rd 5 - Eels v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 12: Matt Burton of the Panthers looks dejected after an Eels try during the round five NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium on June 12, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Is it time for the NRL to blow up its current contract system? NRL journalist Andrew Webster believes so.

Player movement has been a long-standing issue in the NRL, with players able to sign for opposition clubs mid-season, or in other instances a year in advance.

Most elite sports have either a player movement period in the off-season or a window with a strict deadline.

There are many sports where players are able to talk about potential moves and in some cases reach a verbal agreement during the season or before their contract expires but paperwork can’t be lodged until the defined period.

Speaking on SEN radio, Webster believes the current model being used by the NRL is outdated and needs addressing.

“The situation and the stalemate regarding Burton shows you how much the contract system in the NRL needs to be blown up and started again,” said on 1170 SEN’s Morning with Matty White.

“Whether it’s trade windows, a draft or something.

“But this stupid situation where players are signed to clubs a year before the season, it’s just craziness.

“You have a situation where Matt Burton has signed with a club 14 months before the next season is going to start, and then the club where he is going to has to play whatever tricks to get him there early.

“It’s been going on in rugby league for way too long and it’s got to change.”

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Penrith have named Matt Burton in their NSW Cup trial match against the Bulldogs – the team which Burton will join next season.

The Bulldogs were keen to secure Burton’s services for 2021 but the Panthers are holding their ground, with Penrith reluctant to let him go without getting a sufficient player in return.

Webster is reporting that it will be highly unlikely Bulldogs fans get to see their new recruit don their colours until 2022.

“They’re not going to move on Matt Burton, as much as the Bulldogs will try and get him there early, as much as his manager will try and agitate to get him there early,” Webster said.

“There is no way in the world, unless Penrith gets a quality player from the Bulldogs, that he will go.

“They’ve already asked for Dylan Napa, and then I was told they weren’t that keen on him anyway.

“I can’t see them letting go of Matt Burton early.”


  1. I hate seeing clubs loosing juniors who they have developed. And I like a trade idea, at least they can get something in return… I think the whole salary cap needs adjusting, let’s say a club has a player that has come through Harold Matthew’s, jersey flegg, Toyota cup and gets picked in the top 30 squad. Just a figure but say that 25% of that players contract is excluded from the salery cap etc…. And every club is allowed to nominate 1 of there junior players per year and keep adding a new one every year… Surely they could come up with a points system for lower grade games played to qualify. That way it would also entice players to stay at clubs… By allowing clubs to only pick 1 player per year to qualify for the discount it also prevents stock piling and puts the onus on the club to pick the right player… Thoughts?

  2. This is about the fifth time we’ve had a story about Mat Burton, not going to the Bulldogs straight away. Slightly different this time. Still much the same story.
    Everyone on here has had their say about contracts being signed a year or more before a player is allowed to leave their original club.
    Why the talk is always about Burton & him being allowed to go early or not? Who knows? It happens all the time that clubs don’t release the players a year early.
    Of course clubs should get a salary cap allowance, when they bring a young player through their club system. Only to lose that player to another club. They should also get a transfer fee from the club that’s buying them. That would change everything!
    Clubs shouldn’t be signing any players a year early either.

  3. One things for sure Panthers 18.
    After his ( not so honest ) promises to Penrith, about who he’d target to buy from Penrith. Barrett won’t be offered a fall back assistant, or lower grades coaching role at Penrith again. Should he at sometime be pushed out of the Bulldogs . They’ve done that & assisted him twice already.

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