Rugby League

Canberra Raiders recruitment boss wants transfer window to end 'meat market'

Canberra Raiders recruitment boss Peter Mulholland has backed calls for the NRL to address the player "meat market" by introducing a transfer window late in the year.

Mulholland described the current climate, where players change clubs at will, as "ridiculous" and believes it can be solved by following soccer's lead.

The Canberra Raiders are interested in Eels forward Junior Paulo, but he's likely to stay at Parramatta in 2016.
The Canberra Raiders are interested in Eels forward Junior Paulo, but he's likely to stay at Parramatta in 2016.  Photo: Renee McKay

The Raiders are one of many clubs monitoring developments at Parramatta, who are keen to clear up salary cap space to accommodate Sydney Roosters and NSW Origin centre Michael Jennings.

Canberra have been strongly linked to Eels forward Junior Paulo, but it is understood the club doesn't consider him a realistic chance of leaving Parramatta this year.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart is a fan of the 22-year-old since his Parramatta tenure and Canberra are one of a few clubs interested, while fellow Eels forward Pauli Pauli is tipped to join Newcastle.

Paulo is due to appear in court again in April after he pled not guilty in November to charges arising from a road rage incident.

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Clubs are unlikely to gamble on an attempt to sign Paulo for this season, for fear of NRL Integrity Unit sanctions if he is found guilty.

Jennings' possible move to Parramatta came one step closer to reality after Brisbane centre Dale Copley's switch to the Roosters was officially confirmed on Saturday.

However, Fairfax Media understands the legal issues surrounding Will Hopoate's move from Parramatta to Canterbury could further muddy the waters.

It is understood there is a realistic chance any compensation Parramatta may be ordered to pay should they lose the court battle will be included in their 2016 salary cap.

Hopoate is on far less money at the Bulldogs than what was offered by Parramatta, who had not attempted to register his contract with the NRL after realising it would far exceed their salary cap limit.

Mulholland insists player movement so close to the start of the season isn't ideal for the game.

"I think there should be a transfer window," Mulholland said. "It's a wonderful idea to keep it out of the pre-season, it should all be done and dusted well and truly before January.

"There is an opportunity for that in the game and it would make it more media friendly as well, it's something they [NRL] could market. It's something they should be looking at and it does stop the meat market. I'd probably look at holding it from late October until the middle of November, when everyone's back on deck."

The Raiders will still keep a lookout for quality players squeezed out of their current clubs, but would be comfortable with their squad if no additions are made.

"We're always looking for something if it's a position we require," Mulholland said. "You never know, other clubs still have to have their salary cap audited and there may be a movement of a top-liner here or there."

The Raiders are extremely interested in acquiring Newcastle forward Joseph Tapine, who is off contract at the end of the season.

Mulholland signed Junior Kiwi Tapine for the Knights three years ago during his time at the club.