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5 days ago
This week the guessing game surrounding James Tedesco's home in 2015 was finally settled, when he agreed to a three year deal at the Canberra Raiders.
The decision though raises a few questions, not about the deal itself, many of which have seen heated debates across the League Unlimited forums:
Players should do their contract negotiations in the off season.
Teams signing players mid-season has long caused ire amongst most fans. Watching a player wearing your teams colours, knowing that they won't be doing so the following year. Wondering if said player is focussed on the current season. Questioning if they are putting in enough effort etc.
These are legitimate concerns and fans could not be excused for thinking any of these. If players are allowed to negotiate and make deals about where they are playing the following year, then why not go all the way and just have a mid-season transfer window. If a player agrees to a contract mid-season with another side, he should be allowed to switch to that side straight away. The new club then takes over his remaining salary for the current year.
Should a player who has been signed mid-season be retained in the first grade side?
This is a very tricky question. In the case of Tedesco, he is the Wests Tigers best fullback, but if the club has decided that it won't shop around for a replacement, then they should continue working towards their plan of improvement in 2015.
Why should the club enhance a departing player's credentials and abilities and suppress that of a retained player? In the Tedesco case, by playing him, his current side would only be helping Canberra at the detriment of the Wests Tigers. In other cases, the side may be a strong premiership chance and will use that player to help reach that greatest of goals.
Should players who leave a club purely for more money be seen in a poor light?
It's understandable for fans to instantly turn on a player after they've announced they are changing clubs and receiving a bigger salary. Loyalty is raised a lot in the modern game, but isn't really shown by any parties (the teams, the players or the governing body) anywhere near as much as it used to, or should do. In short, any player who has the good fortune to be offered a high salary is most likely going to take it. Rugby League players have around a decade to earn essentially the majority of their 40 years of income. If a seemingly injury prone player is in the same situation, then he is even more inclined to take the bigger money offer.
Should the NRL be doing more to reward clubs who produce more local junior talent than others, to help those clubs retain those players when they hit the NRL?
Short answer is no. You can't force players to play at particular clubs. Furthermore, some clubs are fortunate to have vastly larger and stronger junior pools to select their future stars from than other clubs. The main priority is ensuring as many of these young players get to play in the NRL.
Some people believe in the romantic concept where loyalty prevails over greed, but in today's world, especially in professional sports, such a concept is becoming more and more rare.
Rugby League is a business. Players are assets. Fans are consumers.