Another week, another series of mid-season switches between NRL clubs. Already this season we have seen the Roosters off-load Josh Lewis, Jamie Soward, and Nigel Plum, Luke MacDougall and Ritchie Williams leaving the Dragons, and Clint Newton has left the Knights for Melbourne. Craig Wing has signed for South Sydney, Peter Wallace has signed for Brisbane, and Petero Civoniceva will sign for anyone with a chequebook big enough.
The June 30 anti-tampering deadline would always be predictable. Rugby League fans could set their watches knowing that on the morning of July 1, there would suddenly be an outbreak of players jumping ship.
The usual chorus of board members, journalists, and other misinformed experts bemoaned the lack of "loyalty" in the game, each floating their own unoriginal idea to curb the player drain. Many would float the obligatory idea of a draft, because "it works in AFL". It may work in AFL, but there are some factors that are overlooked.
The draft in AFL is successful, or rather, is not unsuccessful. The AFL has a national draft in the first place because the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) agrees to it. Players are lined up like cattle at a cattle show and are snapped up by the worst teams in the competition, often being forced to change state. Of course, they could sit out the draft, and rely on the watchful eye of an AFL scout at park football to give them their big break.
These experts though forget that there is no competition for the services of AFL players. A talented Rugby League player in reality has three options where he can play Like