The NRL have reopened their doors to player transfers, allowing clubs to poach some of the game’s hottest upcoming free agents, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The NRL suspended all lodgement of contracts due to the coronavirus pandemic, but with the season recommencing on May 28 they have now given the all clear for deals to be done.
There is nearly $6 million worth of talent up in the air at then end of the 2020 season and now the whips will get cracking around some of the biggest names in the game.
All new deals will be required to carry a clause stating that the value of the contract may decrease in line with any drop in future salary caps, should there be an agreement between the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association to lower the cap.
Some of the big names yet to make a decision o their future include, Cameron Smith, Benji Marshall, James Graham, Kieran Foran, Nathan Peats, Mitchell Aubusson and Kevin Proctor.
There had originally been fears that the season would be cancelled and contracts wouldn’t be allowed to be lodged until the end of the year. However, The Sydney Morning Herald are reporting that clubs have been informed by salary cap auditor Richard Gardham that deals are now permitted to be submitted.
“With players resuming training this week the decision has been made top open up contracting for Clubs,” Gardham wrote.
“You can now enter and lodge contracts for the remainder of the 2020 season and all future seasons.
“Until otherwise notified any Top 30 contract not yet registered by the NRL needs to include the following clause: Where the NRL, Clubs and RLPA agree that players’ contracted Playing Fees will be reduced for the 2020, 2021 and / or 2022 seasons, the player agrees that his contracted Playing Fee will be reduced by the same annual percentage basis down to a limit of the agreed Top 30 (or equivalent) minimum wage for that season.”
Dragons prop James Graham told the Herald he had hopes of playing on in 2021 but was unsure if that would be the case at this stage.
“It’s out of my hands,” Graham said at the time.
“When I have been asked this question previously, it’s yes, absolutely, but obviously these are uncertain times.
“Who knows what the future is for the game. There has been a lot of talk about the competition structure and the number of teams and what not.
“Going into next year, being my age  and not having a contract, it’s almost impossible to answer that.
“My priorities aren’t about playing next year, it’s about trying to stay focused and fit. Hopefully we can get back on the field this year and see how it looks.”
Storm skipper Cameron Smith is still yet to make a decision on his playing future. His decision will not only affect him but also young hooker Harry Grant who is on-loan at the Tigers this season. Grant has a get-out clause if Smith signs on for another season.