NRL Mulls Changes To Recruitment Of Teenage Players

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 9:09 am    Post subject: NRL Mulls Changes To Recruitment Of Teenage Players Reply with quote
NRL Mulls Changes To Recruitment Of Teenage Players
Brent Read
The Australian
September 14, 2016

The NRL is mulling over a dramatic change to the game's contracting system which may shift the pressure off the code's youngest stars — and on to the clubs — as they consider restricting the number of teenagers any side can sign in their top squad of 30 players.

In a move which would significantly reduce the number of teenagers being signed to big-money contracts, the NRL has discussed with club officials and the players union a plan under which clubs could sign just one teenager outside the proposed rookie contract system.

The proposal could form part of the blueprint for the game's future being pieced together by NRL head of strategy Brian Canavan, which will include an overhaul of the salary cap, contracting system and pathways program.

At the heart of the plan is believed to be a change of mindset in the way the game treats teenagers, brought about by the number of mental health ­issues the NRL has encountered in recent seasons.

The Australian last year revealed the game had discussed a move which would have resulted in clubs being banned from signing any players to contracts until the year they turn 18.

However, it is understood after talks with the clubs, the NRL is weighing up whether to reduce the age limit to allow clubs to strike agreements with players in the year they turn 17. As it stands, clubs are able to sign kids as young as 15.

They could then be contracted the following year.

That would also mean clubs remain aligned to player agents as the game prepares to put an age limit of 17 on their signing players as well.

Changes to the contracting of teenagers would work hand in glove with a proposal to overhaul the salary cap and the shape of squads. Former head of strategy Shane Richardson had proposed clubs be given responsibility for only one salary cap that would include 30 first grade players as well as six rookies on set pay grades.

It is understood Canavan is likely to press ahead with that plan, although there has been a push to increase the number of rookies per club to as many as 10. Rookie contracts would be contracted for a set amount. It is believed Richardson had proposed they be paid a maximum of $60,000 although the final figure will be contingent on talks between the NRL and Rugby League Players Association.

The only teenagers able to earn more than that would be those in the top grade squad. If the NRL presses ahead with plans to restrict clubs to one teenager in that group of 30 players, it would potentially mean only 16 teenagers across the game would earn more than $60,000 a season.

It would also prevent clubs stockpiling elite teenagers because they could pay only one of them elite money, leaving any others vulnerable to poaching by other clubs. That would force clubs to potentially make a cutthroat call between their best teenagers.

The Wests Tigers, for example, may have had to make a choice between Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks had the proposal been in place when the pair came through their system.

It is understood the NRL has discussed a development fee to compensate any clubs who are raided, although that has attracted a mixed response from the clubs that produce the most juniors.
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