Contract system to get overhaul

The NRL’s chief executive, David Smith, has revealed that the Round 13 rule that currently exists in the NRL is set to be removed next year, in light of the highly publicised rumours surrounding Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans.

The Round 13 rule is essentially a cooling-off period that all players have if they wish to back out of a contract they have signed. In Cherry-Evans case, he signed a very lucrative deal with the Gold Coast Titans at the very start of the season but now rumours are circulating, which he has denied, suggesting he wants to back out of the deal and stay at Manly.

This is not an isolated incident. Last year Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco had signed a deal with the Canberra Raiders, before turning his back on them a few weeks later to sign a contract extension with the Tigers.

The NRL has been criticised widely for a number of years over this system, which has seen a lot of players agreeing to deals with new clubs for the following year, at the very start of the current season.

Smith revealed that “if there’s a better system, we’ll come up with it,” regarding the Round 13 rule.

“I think it needs to be looked at, it is one of those rules that has been in place for some time and we need to make sure that it suits where the game is now and what the fans’ expectations are now.”

When asked if the Cherry-Evans backflip rumours have instigated the discussion to overhaul the system, Smith said, “I don’t think there’s a perfect system that exists anywhere in the world, but I think if you take it from a fan’s perspective they don’t want to see that sort of thing.”

Smith’s own personal insight about contracts could be an indication that the NRL may move towards a system that makes signed contracts more iron-clad.

“I’m old-fashioned in that sense. If I sign an employment contract, or if you sign an employment contract, then you are committed and that should be the way it is.”