SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 02: Viliame Kikau of the Panthers offloads the ball to Apisai Koroisau of the Panthers during the round 16 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at BlueBet Stadium on July 02, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

As the NRL's silly season continues and deals begin to be lined up like dominoes ready to come tumbling down, the question regarding what the competition's transfer window should really look like is being asked louder.

It seems that it has been never-ending speculation since November 1, with Brandon Smith, Viliame Kikau and Clinton Gutherson just some of the stars headlining the circus.

Smith is yet to put pen to paper, while Gutherson has re-signed with the Eels, but it's Kikau's apparent signing with the Canterbury Bulldogs which has angered fans.

The Penrith second-rower was in a leaked photo last week showing him alongside Canterbury Bulldogs' coach Trent Barrett and general manager Phil Gould while wearing a Bulldogs' polo shirt, apparently confirming he has signed with the club for 2023 onwards.

It's not just Kikau however. The NRL's rules currently allow players to sign with rival clubs 12 months before their contract ends, meaning they could have a destination locked in for the following season while still playing with their current club.

It's long been a sticking point for fans, leaving a sour taste in the mouth. Already this off-season alongside Kikau, Luke Metcalf, Marata Niukore and Isaiah Papali'i have swapped clubs for 2023, with more seemingly sure to follow in the weeks leading up to the Christmas break.

But Australian Rugby League Commission chairman Peter V'Landys doesn't seem overly happy with the current arrangement, telling The Sydney Morning Herald that changes are being considered when the current collective bargaining agreement comes to a finish at the end of the 2022 season.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys and National Rugby League Acting Chief Executive Andrew Abdo arrive a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

“We have to find the right balance without hindering a player’s earning capacity and capability,” V’landys said.

“You have to remember a player only has a finite career and they have to make the most of that career, but at the same time I totally understand the fans’ frustration. We need to get the right balance.

“At the moment it’s not the right balance, but I can understand both sides.”

A trade or transfer window has been floated as an idea in the past, however, it has been met with mixed views from players and the Rugby League Players Association, meaning it could be a sticking point of the new collective bargaining agreement, which will need to be signed sometime in the next 12 months.

It's common knowledge some clubs aren't fans of the system though which could potentially force them to keep a player on the books for 12 months, despite the fact they would be at a different club the following year.

V'Landys re-iterated though that it would be about finding a balance.

“We appreciate it’s not ideal, but we’ll go through the process with the players and try to find a happy medium,” V’landys said.

“The players have to understand the people who pay their contracts are the fans, and you have to ensure you’re always paying attention to them. They’ve got other entertainment options.

“But I stress we have to find the right balance. I understand the players’ position, I understand the RLPA’s position and I understand the fans’ frustration.”


  1. Here is a hint, Peter. Go and see how the biggest game in the world handles transfers. Don’t be parochial. Look at soccer in Aus and in Europe.

    Once you accept that transfers should be between CLUBS, and should be independent of the PLAYER-CLUB remuneration contracts, then it all falls into place.

    If Club#1 wants a player contracted to Club#2, then it agrees a transfer fee to get the registration for that player transferred to Club#1 – subject to the player and Club#1 agreeing terms. As a sweetener, the player gets a proportion of the transfer fee.

    If a player wants to leave Club#1 he gets his agent to find him a new club who are prepared to pay him the money he wants. Club#2 pays Club#1 a transfer fee. How much that fee will be will be determined by whether Club#1 wants to really keep him, wants to get rid of him, or somewhere in between. But, the player asked for the transfer so the player doesn’t get any of the transfer fee. That would be a disincentive to players (like Mitchell Pearce) walking away from a club.

    And, if the just walk away to try their hand at AFL, RU or American football, (like Val Holmes or Benji) when they come back to NFL their registration is still owned by their old club, so their new club has to pay a transfer fee to the old club.

    The transfer window could be open for as long as the NRL wants it to be. They might want to close it before the start of the finals series to stop a club buying a few star forwards for a month then moving them on immediately after the Grand Final. (I’m sure I saw a bit of that practice, this season).

    Any decent transfer system would ensure that supporters are not faced with having players hanging around for a season after they have already signed up for another club. And as Peter V says, ultimately it is the supporters that pay for the players.

    and should take place independently of the remuneration contract b

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