It’s hard to keep your business to yourself in rugby league.
It’s a small sport and everyone knows everyone.
It can be awkward for players when speculation about their future is splashed across the press. It can lead to unwanted questions, comments and abuse.
So spare a thought for Liam Sutcliffe when it emerged he had handed in a transfer request at Leeds.
League Express reported on Sunday the 25-year-old had told the club of his intention to leave the club and take on a new challenge.
Normally, a story like that would be ignored or brushed under the carpet by the club and the player. Sometimes, it would be denied only to be proven true days, weeks or months later.
However, rather than do that, Sutcliffe and the club came out and confirmed the news via their official channels in what was a refreshing piece of honesty in a world shrouded in cloaks and daggers.
There was no spin, no-nonsense. Sutcliffe fronted the questions and explained his reasons. Head coach Richard Agar did the same and both said there was no question about his commitment while he was with the club.
Agar noted that Sutcliffe’s thinking hadn’t come as a shock to the club. It’s clear that communication between the player, his agent Craig Harrison and the club itself has been fluid and open, the fact everyone is so amicable is a clear indication of that. There are many people who will tell you it doesn’t always work like that and the fact it has should be commended.
Besides that, Sutcliffe’s reasons for leaving are understandable too. At the age of 25 he is still stuck with the utility tag and it’s something he wants to shrug off. During nine seasons in Leeds’ first-team, he’s never been able to get rid of it and now, he thinks the only way he can is by joining another club with a fresh start. One doubts there are many Leeds supporters who would argue with that and they shouldn’t begrudge him feeling that way either.
The challenge for Sutcliffe comes when he does find a club. With major trophies and an England appearance under his belt, Sutcliffe has had a career many would envy at his age. But with him seemingly coming into his prime and the challenge of proving himself on the horizon, he faces a big 12 months in his career.
But regardless, the transparency involved is a change of tact others could learn from.