I happened to be listening to the ABC broadcast of the Sunday NRL games on the weekend and was intrigued to hear one of the talkback callers bring up an issue relating to the redemption of Todd Carney and Greg Birds in this year's competition. The caller was frustrated by how these players were cut by their former clubs in what many would deem a responsible move, only to be signed up by a new team after rehabilitation.
Everyone wins it seems apart from the original, responsible club. While Cronulla has some cause to be upset at the loss of Bird (he was a reserve grade player when they signed him from Newcastle), Canberra have even more reason to feel bitter. Carney was a local junior, a player who they were destined to build their team around, and a troubled kid who they had counselled and given ample chances to.
For mine the disgruntled caller and the ensuing discussion brought up greater issues in our game such as the need to provide some benefit to teams that develop quality juniors. An example, one of many out there, is Junior Sau, who was developed by Canberra throughout most of his teens only to be signed by the Knights. He has since gone on to play outstanding football and represent New Zealand.
The impending TV rights negotiations are seen by most to be an opportunity to get some extra cashing into the code. But it's also an opportunity to negotiate something new. The salary cap will rise and the NRL can hopefully negotiate a new agreement with players.
One idea, call it the Stevo System (or not Like