NRL Press Conference
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Australian Rugby League Commission Chairman Peter V'landys speaks to the media during a NRL press conference at Rugby League Central on September 03, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Negotiations for players off-contract at the end of 2022 have only been going for five weeks, but already the pressure is mounting on the NRL to do something.

Already multiple players have signed contracts for 2023 with other teams, while more are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Isaiah Papali'i has swapped from the Eels to the Tigers, Luciano Leilua has gone from the Tigers to the Cowboys, Felise Kaufusi from the Storm to the Dolphins, and we could see all of Brandon Smith, Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau officially find new homes in the coming days.

That isn't the full list, but with all those players set to run out for their current teams for another 12 months, frustration for fans is approaching boiling point.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has admitted changes may be made, and after reports emerged late last week that players wouldn't be all that keen on any proposed changes to the transfer market, the Rugby League Players Association have now backed that call in a Fox Sports report.

With the NRL and RLPA's collective bargaining agreement to expire at the end of 2022, the time for re-negotiation of the way contracts and the transfer market looks is now, but the NRL will need players' approval to make the change.

Trade windows and consolidated free agency periods have been floated as the idea, but RLPA boss Clint Newton told the publication that it doesn't matter what the change is, it won't work for everyone.

“We’ve seen globally where trade and transfers haven’t left fans happy,” Newton said.

“There’s a lot of complexities that exist in a trade and transfer. Is it only someone who’s got a year to run on their contract? Or is it someone that has two or three years to run. Who decides?

“There is no easy, simple or cookie-cutter approach to trade and transfer windows.

“No one has tabled a format of how either would work in rugby league, they sound good in theory and it’s OK when you look across the pond. But there are positives and negatives to them everywhere in the world.”

It's understood at this stage no actual option has been tabled to the RLPA, but that is sure to change in the coming months as negotiations ramp up.

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