NRL considering radical changes to player pathways
December 12, 2015 10:00pm
EXCLUSIVE The Daily Telegraph
NRL rising stars including Kangaroos rookie Sione Mata’utia, Kiwi international Jason Taumalolo, Dally M centre of the year James Roberts and Sydney Roosters young gun Jackson Hastings would’ve been deemed ineligible to make their first-grade debut under a controversial new proposal being considered by the ARL Commission.
According to a NRL pathways document leaked to The Sunday Telegraph, from 2018 the game’s most talented young stars will be banned from having a contract registered before they turn 19.
Mata’utia, Taumalolo, Roberts and Hastings lead a long list of the game’s most exciting young talent to have made their NRL debut in recent season under the age of 19.
Originally presented to all 16 club chief executives at a meeting 10-days ago, on December 3, the paperwork spells out in black and white a host of major changes including:
the capping of pre-season matches to just two appearances for elite players — with the Auckland Nines, NRL All Stars, World Club Challenge and club trial matches, all equal to one match
from 2018 a revamped state league will be called ‘Platinum League’ with the proposal for rival clubs to amalgamate their juniors into zones
a recommendation that 2017 — not next season — will be the final year of the under-20s National Youth Competition (Holden Cup)
from 2018 a revamped state league called ‘Platinum League’ with a salary cap of $400,000 will be introduced to replace the NSW Cup and with Channel Nine to televise one match every weekend
every player will be awarded an increase of six to eight consecutive weeks annual leave during the off-season.
The level of detail included in the 24-page blueprint indicates the fabric of rugby league is set for a dramatic overhaul, possibly as early as next season.
Shane Richardson’s whole of the game plan has been eagerly awaited.
While the reduction in pre-season matches for elite players could impact the NRL’s ability to properly promote the majority of the pre-season tournaments, how individual clubs manage to best prepare their sides for season kick-off with the potential of their biggest names having had only one team hitout, will also create debate.
But perhaps the most polarising recommendation being considered by the ARL Commission is that from 2018, no contracts will be registered by the NRL before a player turns 19 and also from 2018, NRL clubs should no longer pay players before they turn 19.
While the recommendation is clearly a bid to curb player burnout and temper the fast-tracked promotion to first-grade of some of the game’s still-developing stars, the new rule infers that likes of Will Hopoate, Wade Graham, Matautia and Hastings — all of whom made their NRL debut before turning 19 — would be left to plying their trade in the lower grades.
The proposal has resulted in an immediate and obvious reaction from clubs that the rule would offer rival codes a free shot to poach rugby league’s best young talent with the lure of a contract that the NRL would be unwilling to entertain.
“It’s one of the most brain dead proposals I’ve ever seen, it’s embarrassing,’’ one senior club official said.
“Let’s just open the door to other codes and let them take our best teenagers.
“The proposal reads like someone in at the NRL is trying to prove they exist by coming up with a plan, if you can call it that, that will ultimately have far greater negative impact on the game as a whole, than anything positive.
“They talk about community engagement, well how does merging lower grade teams into zones cultivate community engagement? With less teams, it only dilutes it.’’
http://m.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/nrl/nrl-considering-radical-changes-to-player-pathways/story-fnp0lyn3-1227643210930?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A dailytelegraphnrlndm (Daily Telegraph | NRL)