Patrick Dangerfield takes on his old team Adelaide.
Patrick Dangerfield takes on his old team Adelaide. JULIAN SMITH

Respect the name of player transfer game

IT'S fortunate our lawmakers don't have the same philosophy as those in a certain rival code when it comes to player signings.

The 'anytime, anywhere' free- for-all in the NRL is a path I would hope the AFL never goes down.

Sure, the indigenous game has its faults. The trade period, for instance, can be a meat market. A feeding frenzy.

But at least we have one.

Then there's mid-season player defections like those that have engulfed league's top tier.

Players have every right to want to switch clubs, especially if they've done their time and their contract has expired.

But, it's about having respect for your current club, coaches and teammates and, in particular fans, and not ripping their hearts out when they are going feel it most - during the season.

While it's far from a perfect situation, I'd rather have the months of speculation about a certain player's future than one coming out and announcing they're going to be out the door.

"I think our game is really untidy. Basically, it seems anyone can go anywhere at any time," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said recently. "We have been so used to it that it's just what we do and part of our fabric.

"It just seems unbelievable this early in the year we have guys leaving clubs or thinking of leaving clubs and clubs letting important players go. There seems to be more news about what is happening off the field than on the field.

"(But) I think most of the fans want to see whoever starts the season with you, end the season with you."

Both physically and mentally.

In the AFL, players cannot officially sign with a rival club until the season ends. And that's a good thing.

 

Aaron Woods (left) of the Tigers is tackled by Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs  at ANZ Stadium in Sydney
Aaron Woods (left) of the Tigers is tackled by Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney PAUL MILLER

Can you imagine if captain Nat Fyfe, who is out of contract, dropped an April bombshell on Fremantle that he would be leaving to join, say St Kilda, straightaway or even next season, like counterpart Aaron Woods has done to Wests Tigers. Woods was greeted by boos from Tigers fans during the team's introduction at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.

Or Dustin Martin, who like Fyfe becomes a restricted free agent in October, just announcing he would be leaving the club that has looked after him through difficult times, Richmond, by signing with North, a la Kieran Foran who is to ditch the Warriors just after they gave the troubled star a lifeline, to cross to the Bulldogs.

Or Josh Schache, who is yet to recommit to Brisbane beyond 2017, signs a deal to join a Victorian club but will see out the year with the Lions, something akin to Newcastle-bound Cowboy Kalyn Ponga.

What a painfully awkward situation for North Queensland, and a confusing time for any young Cowboys fan who will find themselves getting behind the young halfback only to be told by their parents not to get too attached.

Sure, we've had the likes of Lance Franklin and Patrick Dangerfield forecast moves, but they had enough respect for their clubs not to go rubbing their noses in it. And in turn fans were still able to get behind them.

And softening any blow is the compensation that comes in the form of a player swap or offering of draft picks during the October trade period.

Geelong, Adelaide and even Dangerfield himself had enough respect for each other to avoid going down the free agency route - which would have only provided the Crows with minimal restitution - and orchestrate a suitable exchange for all.

It's not always that adequate, but it's always something.

The NRL could certainly take a leaf out of the AFL's play book.

Cooper Cronk certainly did when he announced he would be leaving Melbourne. He could not have been any more respectful to the Storm. It might've been that AFL influence down south.

News Corp Australia


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