Off the Wall


Even before we got to round two of the premiership - after an earlier than usual start in any event - two firstย  grade players have signed for another club for next season.

First it was James Maloney signing with the Roosters even before the start of the season, that was followed last week an even more significant one.

It is easy to point the finger over the signing by the Knights of the Dragons player, Beau Scott, for four years from 2013, at the Knights, at Wayne Bennett, or at Beau Scott and his manager.

Easy, but wrong.

The real blame lies with the David Gallop administration of the NRL which has done absolutely nothing over the last decade to bring in a transfer system that regulates transfers during the season.

In my view this inaction leaves every NRL club is an equally appalling position.
If they don't sign players when they become available, then they will end up in the bottom four of the premiership.

Now it might be argued that the Knights could have held off signing Scott.
But would the Dragons have resigned him in the meantime, or would he have gone somewhere else?

Wayne Bennett was his usual honest, deadpan self, when he defended the signing, pointing out it was diabolical for fans - not to mention the Dragons - but those are the rules and the Knights have to play with the cards they are dealt.

And so is every other club.

It is not possible to feel sorry for Beau Scott. He has picked up an extraordinary contract. His financial future has been secured.

I feel sorry for his Dragons team mates.

As a professional he will do all he can to give his very best for the Dragons for the rounds, and the finals if they get there.

But he will be under massive media and fan scrutiny.

That puts pressure on him - and on the team.

We simply must have a regulated transfer system, one that does not unfairly impose "restraint of trade" conditions, but one that ends this nonsense.

Over the weekend a number of players favoured a small "window of opportunity" when transfers can take place.

The issue of the reintroduction of a player "draft" has been raised - but given the Terry Hill court decision way back in 1991ย  that could only happen if it became part fo a binding agreement between the ARLC (latterly known as the IC) and the Players Association.

The effect would have to be that in return for a substantial pay rise, the association would agree not to legally challenge a new draft in the courts.

But does every player belong to the players association?

This issue needs to go to the top of the ARLC agenda.

It is not good for the game.

It just cannot be allowed to continue!