NRL NEWS: AFL-style signings window option considered, Walker defense a concern

The NRL is considering a hardline stance on player transfers by having only one signing window at the end of the season, in line with the AFL system.

Rugby League Central is considering its options to overhaul the controversial signing scheme following a surge of players signing with new clubs more than 12 months into their new deals.

Teams see their rosters decimated with Parramatta losing Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs), Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers), Ray Stone (Dolphins), Marata Niukore (Warriors) and Oregon Kaufusi (Sharks) for 2023 before a ball is kicked this season and Melbourne faces a similar purge with Dolphins rookies Felise Kaufusi, Kenny Bromwich and Jesse Bromwich, and the departure of Roosters-linked Kiwi international Brandon Smith.

CEO Andrew Abdo said the NRL was negotiating with the Rugby League Players Association over the signing system as part of collective bargaining talks.

He said a system that also included a mid-season transfer window was also one of the options on the table.

“It’s all up for debate and I don’t know where we’re going to end up,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “

“We have highlighted natural opportunities to think about the window, especially the main one at the end of the season. After the grand final, then having the opportunity for players, agents and clubs to engage and interact, and do it all in the offseason is probably what clubs are looking for to give teams the opportunity to start their pre-season knowing what their full team is.

Transfer windows are attracting a lot of interest from other professional sports like football, AFL, NBA and NFL. Currently, the NRL allows players to negotiate and sign with rival clubs from November 1 of the year before the final season of a contract.

Eels coach Brad Arthur told SEN Radio on Thursday morning that the current system is flawed.

“I don’t know what the right answer is. From the players’ point of view, they want their future sorted out,” he said before adding that players from all clubs are professional enough to continue playing in their team before joining the new one.

(Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Walker needs to improve his defense: Ennis

Five-eighth Roosters Sam Walker needs to improve his tackling technique or he will continue to be targeted by opposition forwards, a Fox League analyst says.

The former Premiership-winning Sharks hooker said he played alongside a five-eight to James Maloney, who also missed numerous tackles but was no liability.

Walker has missed 18 tackles in three outings this year as the lightly built 19-year-old looks to build on his impressive rookie campaign in 2021.

“You watch when Walker came on and I think it’s hugely refreshing to see a kid come in and play the way he plays. I think we’re all okay with that,” Ennis said on NRL 360 on Wednesday night.

“But if you look at the roosters and the Bondi wall they’re talking about, which Cooper [Cronk] was a big part of that, Cooper was very good defensively. You look at some of the other great halfbacks like Joey [Andrew Johns], even Nathan Cleary right now. They are really good defensively.

“We are expecting a lot of young people but also defensively, the NRL is tough. And physically, the longer he continues to miss, the more he’s going to be targeted. But I think he’s fine.”

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