Rugby League


NRL backs decision to let Newcastle Knights resolve Joseph Tapine saga

NRL head of football Todd Greenberg has stood by the governing body's decision not to intervene and leave Newcastle to resolve the Joseph Tapine saga, with a release allowing the back rower to move to Canberra expected this week.

Speaking at Ricky Stuart's annual charity golf day at Royal Canberra on Monday, Greenberg was confident a conclusion to the public stoush between Tapine's management and the Knights was close.

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Back rower Tapine has signed with Canberra for four years from 2017, but could be released as soon as Monday after he was banished from Knights training, excluded from the team photograph and overlooked for Saturday's trial with the Raiders at Orange.

The Knights were desperate to receive compensation from Canberra before releasing Tapine early, but the Raiders ruled out a player swap or transfer fee early in proceedings.

The Knights are owned by the NRL, and Tapine's manager formally requested the governing body to help assist in the stand-off.

But Greenberg said he was content with the clubs sorting through the issue.


"Our position at the moment is the clubs are talking and I'm sure they'll come up with a solution which will keep all parties happy," he said.

"We've been in contact with the Knights, as have we been in contact with the RLPA [Rugby League Players' Association].

"They [RLPA] are always there, as they should be, to protect the interest of the players so they're watching very closely the dialogue between the clubs to make sure it's resolved amicably."

The player 'merry-go-round' where stars switch teams virtually as they please is a source of frustration for fans, but Greenberg said it gives players more bargaining power.

"Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement what you need to understand is it's a free trade agreement for our players, and that's a big advantage for players," Greenberg said.

"They have the ability to earn their livelihoods and talk to clubs as they need to. Whether that changes in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, that will be something which will be debated between the game and the RLPA.

"At the moment that's the rules under which we operate."

Should Tapine join the Raiders in the coming days as is likely, Canberra could boast one of the more agile front row rotations in the league.

The Raiders lack prop depth but have many quality back rowers meaning Sia Soliola and Tapine, if selected, could spend plenty of time in the middle third.

Former Canberra prop Luke Davico believes more athletic players up front could be a bonus, but insisted the big men won't be forced out of the game.

Raiders giant Shannon Boyd was one of the best in the Newcastle trial before a minor neck injury ended his involvement.

However, he is not in any doubt for the round-one clash with Penrith at Canberra Stadium on March 5.

Hooker Adam Clydsdale had scans on Monday on a shoulder injury he suffered in the trial.

"I'm especially interested to see how young Boyd goes in his second or third year, I'm expecting him to step up to the next level," Davico said.

"I'm glad to see less interchanges. Ricky has to make his changes more wisely but it gives those guys in the middle more time on the park.

"It opens the door for the smaller men to make their mark. You just can't go on for ten minute bursts and come off any more.

"There's still room for the really big men, they just have to work harder on their agility and footwork."