Rugby League’s complex broadcasting negotiations could see a number of NRL stars, including hard-hitting Brisbane Broncos utility Ben Te’o, lost to rugby union.
With more than 200 off-contract players sweating on the outcome of the code’s push for a $1 billion TV rights deal, there are fears rugby league’s crosscode rivals could pounce on a raft of NRL free agents weighing up their futures.
Such is the concern over when the broadcasting deal will be finalised, some NRL clubs are including a salary-cap related clause in the standard playing contract to assist topliners in the negotiation process.
Te’o is one NRL star in high demand. The Queensland Origin hopeful is being targeted by several NRL rivals and has been linked with Super 15 province ACT Brumbies, whose high-performance manager Dean Benton formerly trained Te’o at the Broncos.
The 25-year-old fielded interest last season from Japanese rugby but opted to honour the final year of his current contract at the Broncos.
Rugby league agent Simon Mammino of Life Arena – which manages Origin stars Dave Taylor, Jharal Yow Yeh, Neville Costigan and Sam Thaiday – said the NRL’s uncertain marketplace left the code vulnerable to poaching raids from the 15-a-side code.