Players who are out of contract at the end of the season will be free to speak to other clubs from this Friday, after the RFL decided against changing the May 1st deadline for them being free to negotiate new contracts with other clubs.
After consultation with clubs, players and agents, the RFL Board has decided to keep the current May 1st date in place, meaning all players whose contracts are set to expire at the end of the season can negotiate new contracts with rival clubs on Friday.
Castleford head coach Daryl Powell has said the deadline should be pushed back because of the uncertainty currently surrounding the game.
“They’ll have to change it,” Powell said earlier this month.
“It would be crazy to leave that in place. That will change. At the moment you’re probably going to have four or five plans in place, depending on what happens, which is difficult.”
However, the RFL has recommended the date remain in place, and support from across the game has prompted the governing body to stick to its initial proposal.
The only change to the rule relates to clubs notifying off-contract players whether they would be offered a new deal.
Operational rules state that clubs must notify an off-contract player of their intention to offer a contract for the following season by April 30th (full-time) and 30th August (part-time).
However, with the majority of employees at clubs currently furloughed, the RFL has pushed back those dates to June 26th and September 25th for full-time and part-time players respectively to ease administrative demands on clubs currently operating with a depleted workforce.
As such, clubs can theoretically start recruiting this weekend, though the ongoing financial uncertainty is likely to prove problematic for clubs trying to sort out their budgets for the season ahead.
As well as Jamie Shaul (pictured), there are a number of high-profile players off-contract at the end of the season, including Niall Evalds, Ben Currie, Danny Houghton, Mike McMeeken, Albert Kelly, Brad Dwyer and Joey Lussick.