NRL to push for transfer changes

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NRL to push for transfer changes

The NRL will push for a change to the game's transfer system after CEO Andrew Abdo admitted there were pain points in the current model.

The game's unusual system has been placed back under the spotlight in the past month, with at least seven players already deciding their future elsewhere for 2023.

The image of Viliame Kikau in a Canterbury jersey and Brandon Smith's love affair with the Sydney Roosters have also enraged fans, with both players still at their respective clubs for 2022.

The NRL have previously indicated their desire for trade windows, including one mid-season after State of Origin and another at the end of the year.

But that has always been met with opposition from the Rugby League Players' Association, who fear what impact injuries could have for an athlete's earning potential.

Talks over the issue will again be prominent in coming months, with the NRL to lay their cards on the table at collective bargaining agreement negotiations for the 2023 season and beyond.

Abdo conceded at Tuesday's All Stars announcement in Sydney he could see both sides of the argument, but was confident change could come.

“The commission has said to us to think innovatively and differently about what a trade window or contract window may look like,” Abdo said.

“It is complex, because each party has interests they try to protect.

“But I am very confident there is a way for us to try and find a middle ground.

“I definitely think there are things we can do which might alleviate some of the pain points around players signing very early out.”

Abdo also confirmed he had been given directions from the ARL Commission to explore what other sports do globally, in another pointer towards a transfer window.

Player drafts have also formed part of that discussion in recent years, but that has been shouted down by the same lawyer who ensured it was blocked legally 30 years ago.

Any shake up to the transfer window would be the most significant since the Super League war.

Notably, the NRL had previously had a June 30 anti-tampering deadline, meaning players could not be signed for the next season until that point.

However that was scrapped in 2007 and the window moved back to November 1, prompting a raft of early signings that are now many almost a year in advance.

Abdo on Tuesday denied that it was a bad look for the sport, but conceded he understood why fans were frustrated.

“We have done a lot of research, we have done a lot of analytics. We have looked at different models around the world,” Abdo said.

“We are now at the point where we will engage with the different stakeholder groups and get their views.

“Anything is possible. This will be one of many things we speak about and think about (in CBA negotiations).

“We want to be the best sporting entertainment experience in Australia.

“To do that, we need to think about lifting the professionalism of the game.”

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