Leading player-agent Craig Harrison has admitted the current transfer market is the most difficult he has ever experienced.
Harrison has ten Super League players off-contract at the end of the season and is in the process of trying to secure them new deals.
But Covid-19 has left many clubs unable to draw up budgets and nervy about offering deals for the years ahead.
In addition to that Harrison, whose organisation is ‘Show Me The Money’, revealed that reserve grade does not look likely to return next season, with an Under-20s competition instead thought to be in the pipeline.
That is also having a knock-on effect on his younger, less established players who are looking for an opportunity.
“I’d say it’s the worst I’ve seen it since I started, but rightly so,” he said.
“The clubs don’t know where the game is going to be, so it’s making everything worse by a factor of ten.
“With there being no reserves it’s even harder, as clubs will take on players as cover, play reserves and see if they get better and make the grade. I don’t think that will happen if it goes to 19s or 20s, which I’m told is going to happen.
“The best idea for that would be for three over-age players to be allowed because otherwise there aren’t the pathways or opportunities to show what they’re capable of.”
Harrison’s off-contract Super League players are James Bentley (St Helens), Ryan Brierley (Hull KR), Ben Currie (Warrington), Ben Jones-Bishop, George King (both Wakefield), Jacques O’Neill, Daniel Smith and Calum Turner (all Castleford) and Oliver Russell (Huddersfield Giants).
As it stands, deals haven’t been reached for any of those players, with many other agents in the same boat.
“My philosophy is that first of all you deal with the club they currently play for.
“At the moment they say they can’t commit, which I’d say they’re absolutely right to say, but it just makes things difficult.”
One player whose future is set to be tied up soon is Ben Currie (pictured), with the backrower attracting plenty of interest across the world.
“Ben is one of the highest-profile players in the world who is coming off contract,” Harrison said.
“But again, my philosophy is to deal with Warrington, as we have been doing, to make that work. It would only be if that broke down that we would go elsewhere, but we have every intention to make that work.”