Clint Newton is dreaming if he thinks letting contracted players trial for NFL clubs is a good idea


Let us imagine Joe Bloggs works at Fox Sports but Channel Seven are interested in getting him across to their network. Channel Seven put feelers out and ask him to come along to an interview.

Bloggs tells Fox Sports about the approach being the good employee that he is. Fox Sports isn’t mad, not even disappointed. In fact, Fox Sports want Joe to take as much time as he needs with Seven, hang out at their head office, meet the team, whatever Joe wants. And if he wants to come back to Fox Sports, well, they’re happy to have him.

Sound too good to be true?

That’s because it is.

Jason Taumalolo and Valentine Holmes wanted to test the waters in the NFL. Instead of being at their respective clubs (where they’re contracted) and slogging it out in pre-season with their teammates, the pair were in the United States trying a sport they’ve never played.

The NRL plans to block contracted players from trialling with NFL franchises after the annual CEOs meeting last week.

It’s one thing promoting rugby league to the world, it’s another selling your soul and the integrity of the game just so a few blokes can run around in another sport.

“The clubs have made it clear that they don’t want their players going to another code, including NFL, and risking serious injury,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg told The Sunday Telegraph.

“That is a view the NRL shares — we don’t support players going off to play with or promote other codes.’’

That makes more sense.

But Rugby League Players Association General Manager Clint Newton had another spin on it.

“We understand and respect a club’s ability to enforce its right under the playing contract,’’ he said.


“Having said that, we think the interest from the NFL in our players showcases their incredible athletic ability and transferable skills, particularly to American football.

“Considering the popularity of the NFL and the huge potential that any exposure in the US market could have on the NRL, the focus on our players globally must also be seen as a positive for our game.

“We’d encourage players and their agents to discuss these types of opportunities with their clubs in the future so they can be treated on a case-by-case basis.”

Is this the RUGBY LEAGUE Players Association?

The RLPA has a duty of care to rugby league and the players that play our code.

Jarryd Hayne’s switch to San Francisco was done the right way. Hayne asked Parramatta to be released from his contract with no guarantees from the 49ers. He worked hard and he got the rewards. The Dally M winner didn’t trial in America on Parramatta’s time.

“Hopefully we start to see more athletes who miss out on the NFL looking to trial for the NRL if they miss out on a contract over there,’’ Newton added.

“They’d just need to get their head around playing for a lot less.’’

Hmm. Okay. You can picture the NRL and NFL at the trade table.

NRL: “Okay we’ll give you Jason Taumalolo, Valentine Holmes, Tom Burgess, Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne”.

NFL: We’ll give you five bums that couldn’t make any of the 32 NFL rosters.”

The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

We’d end up losing some of our biggest names and what would we get? A bunch of yanks that wouldn’t know Suncorp from Steeden.

Do we not remember the legend of Greg Smith? The supposed Philadelphia Eagle who conned his way into the Newcastle Knights first grade side? He was atrocious and banished after one game, never to be seen again.

Let’s just slow down and remember we have a brand to protect too.


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