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Players switching clubs will no longer be able to have a change of heart after signing on the dotted line, with the NRL and RLPA agreeing to scrap the controversial 10-day cooling-off period for new contracts.
The NRL has been tinkering with its protocols around player movement over recent years, but it was the public outcry that followed the decision by Manly Sea Eagles star Daly Cherry-Evans to renege on a deal with the Gold Coast Titans in 2015 that forced a change.
Players used to be allowed to back out of contracts before June 30, before changing it to a round 13 deadline – the rule which was in place at the time of the Cherry-Evans controversy.
The NRL then changed the protocols to allow players 10 days to change their minds, not allowing clubs to announce the signature until after the period lapsed or the players waived their right to the 10-day timeframe.
James Tedesco and Josh Papalii are other players to have changed their mind after agreeing to terms with other clubs.
Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association have agreed to scrap all measures providing players with the opportunity to pull out of a deal.
It’s believed the move will take some of the power away from player managers, whose sway in the game has only increased over the years.
“Removing the 10-day cooling-off period from player contracts was something we agreed to through the CBA negotiations,” RLPA general counsel Tim Lythe said.
“In our view, a deal is a deal, and this process needed to be improved as it created unnecessary tension within the cooling-off period between clubs and players. This provision has proved detrimental to both clubs and players on occasions.
“Having players and clubs commit to the contract once it’s signed increases the integrity of the entire player recruitment and negotiation process.”
The NRL is pleased with the decision, comfortable with the fact players won’t be allowed to wriggle out of contracts.
“As part of the new CBA, it was agreed that there will be no cooling-off period for the registering of contracts,” an NRL spokesman said.
“It was the NRL’s view that once a decision is made and a contract is signed, it should be final, as is the case in other industries and professions.”