NRL news: Brandon Smith podcast, Roosters club switch

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Rugby league great Brad Fittler says it’s time for the NRL to fix its controversial contract system that allows contracted players to sign for rival clubs.

Under the current system, from November 1 each year, players who are entering the final year of their playing contracts are free to negotiate and sign new deals with any other club for the following season and beyond.

This off-season has so far seen the likes of stars Reed Mahoney, Isaiah Papali’i, Viliame Kikau, Felise Kaufusi, and Brandon Smith all sign new contracts with rival teams despite having a full season left to play with their current clubs.

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The issue has only been magnified by contracted Storm Star Smith’s new deal. He will join the Roosters in 2023 after it was revealed during a controversial podcast that left Melbourne officials furious.

“It’s something that’s got to get cleaned up,” Fittler told Nine’s Today.

“I think any time players are signing 12 months out for another club… it’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time. They need to do something about it.

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“I haven’t listened to the [Brandon Smith] podcast, but I know lots of people have spoken about the language and what he was talking about – I think it was a little bit distasteful because he’s playing for Melbourne this year.

“There’s needed an investigation.”

Brandon Smith angers Storm with podcast

The idea of introducing a transfer period in the NRL has often been floated over the years.

But yesterday the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) baulked at the idea.

“The reality is there is no cookie-cutter approach to trade and transfer windows,” RLPA chief Clint Newton told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Trade windows have not been proven to quell fan discontent. There are many examples globally where it doesn’t actually reduce it. There’s no evidence to suggest that it will resolve some of the current public frustration.”

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