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Speaking on SEN radio, Webster believes the current model being used by the NRL is outdated and needs addressing.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