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In the next couple of months the ARLC is likely to have to address a couple of issues that will really tell us whether things have changed in the way the game addresses the challenges caused by players who abandon our code, and then want to return.
It would seem that Sonny Bill Williams wants to "return" to rugby league via the Sydney Roosters in 2013. The New Zealand Herald reported yesterday that Williams wants to have just ONE season in the NRL and then go back to rugby in 2014 so he can be selected to take part in the All Blacks defence of the Rugby World Cup in 2015.
If the ARLC allows this to happen then it will be letting down our game and its integrity. It defies comprehension that such an arrangement could be sanctioned by the ARLC - and quite frankly it is troubling that the Roosters would even be contemplating it.
The Commission needs to have a good hard look at any request for registration.....and if it is for just one season it must surely be rejected. The second registration issue may well be Israel Folau.
I see he is back to playing park AFL next weekend with his "premiership" level career seemingly cactus. So it is not surprising that reports are emerging he might return to the NRL next year. Or seek to return!
In one report an AFL official is quoted as saying the AFL gots its value out of Folau because of the media coverage his code swap delivered. And not to mention the confected PR stunts he took part in - all designed to promote the AFL in Western Sydney at the expense of our game.
The fact it has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster ought to be of no relevance if he seeks to return to rugby league. If he wants to return to rugby league - having taken from the AFL considerably more than he could have earned in the NRL - he should be required to sit out 2013.......or at least not be able to play in the NRL premiership.
Harsh? Maybe - but we must have a deterrent to stop the nonsense we have seen in the last couple of years. I don't take issue with an NRL player who goes to play rugby in France and then seeks to come back to the NRL. But when players are used to promote rival codes in our own back yard surely we need a deterrent to that happening.
The Western Sydney AFL push has been something of a debacle. But it may well be having an impact on the capacity of Western Sydney NRL clubs to attract sponsors etc.
I am not sure it is impacting on crowds, given the woeful attendances the AFL club is getting! But the ARLC needs to discourage raids on our players - and especially when they are expensive PR stunts seeking to target our plan and fan base.
Making it harder for players who desert our code to return would be a good start!