Toronto centre Greg Worthington says that the RFL needs to consider ways to provide opportunities to off-contract players who face entering the wilderness with the game still in lockdown.
As of last week, players whose contracts expire at the end of the campaign were free to start negotiating contracts with other clubs.
But most clubs haven’t even started considering their recruitment options, with their focus instead being put into safeguarding their immediate futures.
The current climate has also left clubs unable to draw up their budgets for next season. However, it leaves many players, including Worthington, in the dark as to whether they have a future in the sport.
Now 29, it is the first time Worthington has ever entered the open market, having always signed extensions with clubs in advance. But he now finds himself in a position where his livelihood is uncertain, and the suspension of the season means he can’t try to earn a deal through his performances on the pitch.
“I’ve been racking my brain trying to work out what a fair solution would be, but it’s really difficult,” he said.
“You could say that the contracts are extended; we’ve not really done anything but pre-season and four or five rounds, so you move the contract on to the following year, but then that opens the debate to players on multi-year deals who have also lost a year.
“I don’t know the answer, it’s an unprecedented situation, but I definitely think it should be out there for debate.
“The current climate means clubs are all waiting for the virus to ease, they’re all going to have to sit and assess the pot for next year, so I don’t think any will really be looking at recruiting at present. I imagine there are a lot of players currently in the same position not knowing what the future holds. And the clubs might then have to offer reduced offers off the back of pay cuts already.”
While players are free to speak to clubs now, the clubs now don’t need to inform their players whether they will be offering them a new contract until June 24th, a decision made to ease administrative pressures on clubs who have furloughed their staff.
However, with no games likely to take place before then, it leaves the players looking to earn a contract unable to do so, and coaches having to make a judgement call unlimited evidence.
“It’s an issue for coaches too,” he said.
“They’ve got to make a call on a player off a broken season, players have to impress enough to get someone else to offer a contract without showcasing their skills.
“A concern is that you’re left in the wilderness and hoping someone takes a punt on you off the back of performances a year ago, you might be a totally different player, but have you got the evidence to show that?
“And when you talk about clubs taking a punt on you, it opens it up to lower offers, particularly with the current climate.
“Where do you find the middle ground? It’s a very hard to thing to look at and come up with an answer, but I think it’s vital for us to discuss.”