In the wake of the Daley Cherry-Evans and Keiran Foran defections from Manly calls for a trading window in the NRL are getting louder.
The National Rugby League is the only competition in the world without a trading window. This means that negotiations can take anytime. The problem with this is – as has spectacularly happened with Cherry-Evans – players can have their contracts formalised a season out from joining their new club.
Knowing a player is leaving for another club at the end of the season puts pressure on the incumbent clubs to get as much out of their player before they leave – often wearing out the player and risking injury. The player, on the other hand, has lost their investment in the club they are playing for, and wants to do as little as they can while honouring their contract.
The players around the off-contract player begin to view their one-time teammate with suspicion. Will they tell their new club about player weaknesses or favourite tactics? Can they be relied upon to give their all each game?
In the end it’s the fans that lose the most. Players they have spent years following and identifying with will be lining up against their side. Clubs that have spent tens of thousands of dollars bringing these players through the junior grades see their investment walking out the front door. And rugby league itself suffers, as things like loyalty and commitment are shown to have no place in the modern game.