Rugby League
International Federation propose law changes

Next week's Rugby League International Federation board meeting here could close the door on players being registered in two competitions at the same time, preventing a repeat of Andrew Johns's UK stint this year.

The Newcastle halfback was prepared to step down from the national team this year to play for Warrington Wolves after the Knights' NRL season ended. He said he would have missed Australia's Tri-Nations Test against New Zealand if the Wolves made it to the Super League grand final.

They didn't, so Johns returned home but was subsequently ruled out of the Test series with a knee injury. Johns, English-born Rooster Adrian Morley and Auckland's Sione Faumuina (Hull) were among the NRL players recruited by Super League clubs after their NRL seasons expired before the finals.

RLIF deputy chairman Richard Lewis, executive chairman of the English Rugby League, says he will push for changes to registration rules to stop players competing in both competitions in future. He is expected to get the support needed to have the rule changes passed.

"Having Andrew Johns and other players registered was a terrific boost for Super League," Lewis said. "It certainly was a big success. But in the long term it's inappropriate to have players registered in two leagues and playing for two clubs at the same time.

"The rule needs to be changed. That could mean bringing back the date Super League clubs can register players, which would not be a major change."

Australian Rugby League chairman Colin Love, who heads the four-man RLIF executive board, agreed with Lewis.

"It's not fair on English clubs who play all year to then have to play clubs who've loaded up with Australia's best players when our minor premiership is finished," Love said. "Our players are always expressing concerns that they play too many games as it is, yet they want to come here and play extra games."

The massive Warrington offer put Johns in dispute with the ARL, which at one time was uncertain if he would be available to play for Australia because of his UK deal.

The RLIF will also review calls for changes to the international judiciary, which is under fire for handing out light penalties compared to the NRL and Super League.