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Parra, Raiders need to be good sports

"Canberra will fight hard to try to make him change his mind" ... Parramatta CEO Ken Edwards on Josh Papalii, pictured.

"Canberra will fight hard to try to make him change his mind" ... Parramatta CEO Ken Edwards on Josh Papalii, pictured. Photo: Jay Cronan

South Sydney needed a prop to overcome their front-row injury crisis midway through the 2011 season, so the Rabbitohs convinced Leeds to release Luke Burgess by paying the Super League club a transfer fee.

Unlike Josh Papalii's move from Canberra to Paramatta next season, the deal was done with no acrimony between the Rabbitohs and Rhinos and no hysteria about a player signing for a rival NRL club 12 months in advance.

Burgess had already decided to join his brother Sam, who was also released early from his contract with Bradford after Souths paid a transfer fee, but Leeds wanted to retain Luke's services for the remainder of the season to avoid a similar front-row shortage to the one that had hit the Rabbitohs.

However, financial compensation from Souths convinced the Rhinos to release Burgess immediately and he was lining up for the Rabbitohs just a few weeks later.

If only the Eels and Raiders could come to a similar arrangement over Papalii that would benefit both clubs.

Instead, the 20-year-old may now be subjected to pressure from Canberra officials hoping he will change his mind before round 13 and renege on the $1.5 million, three-year deal with Parramatta announced on Friday night, while fans will question his commitment every time he drops a ball or misses a tackle.

For their part, the Eels say they have not broached the subject of Papalii joining them this year as he is not off contract until the end of the season but anyone who saw them play against Wests Tigers will tell you they need some aggression in the forwards and the Kiwi-born second rower fits the bill perfectly.

Parramatta officials were negotiating with England hardman Gareth Hock during the off-season and it is understood the club was prepared to pay Wigan a transfer fee to release him, which the Warriors have subsequently done - but to Widnes.

Salary-cap problems also prevented the club from signing Israel Folau and he was lost to rugby union but with the ceiling for player payments increasing to $5.85 million this season under the recently negotiated collective bargaining agreement, the Eels should now be able to accommodate Papalii's contract immediately.

And transfer payments to other clubs are not included under the salary cap, meaning the Raiders may demand to be reasonably compensated for releasing Papalii now.

''Your suggestion seems a fair one for clubs, players and fans but we haven't applied ourselves to other options,'' chief executive of Parramatta, Ken Edwards, said.

Such a deal would help to ease the bitterness felt in Canberra, with officials claiming they were strung along after being told that, if the club matched a $400,000 per season offer from Parramatta, then Papalii would stay.

The Raiders say they met Papalii's demands but they now believe he had already agreed to a more lucrative deal with the Eels.

In response, the club is considering approaches from sponsors about potential third-party deals aimed at convincing Papalii to renege on his deal with Parramatta and stay in Canberra not only for this season but long term.

''He's a talented kid and a good kid - a great fit for the Eels - and Canberra will fight hard to try to make him change his mind,'' Edwards said.

''We will continue to do all we can to make sure he knows he is welcome and will be part of our success.

''We can only work with the rules as they exist.

''Josh has signed a contract - and we have lodged it with the NRL - after Josh and his management considered best offers put forward by Canberra and Eels.

''Josh has spoken about the faith he has in our club and his decision, which, of course, excites us.

''It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that sets up a full and detailed negotiation between three parties which leads to a contract being signed but then potentially opens the process up again.''

4 comments so far

  • Not the most well thought out proposal. Transfer fees are not going to work when there is a NRL style salary cap in place. Cash is little benefit to a financially stable club like Canberra.

    Why would they undermine their season for a few hundred K that they cant even spend on a player, with no players even available at this time of year anyway.

    Commenter
    rory
    Date and time
    February 25, 2013, 9:55AM
    • This is why player signing a year in advance is a problem, no other sport in the world has a shambolic system as the NRL does. Its time it moved with the time either try a draft once again and I think The AFL or the ones used in the NFL and NBA are good systems to go by, and I think this is the way forward for this competition or introduce a transfer system in line with football. where as basically players are constantly on contract and if they are not willing to extend the deal they are sold to the highest bidder, ensuring clubs get some return on players they have developed. The only problem being that how the salary cap would be affected with this system, hence why i think the Draft is a better fit.

      Commenter
      Chris
      Date and time
      February 25, 2013, 11:21AM
      • When you have a player of Josh Papali's ability you sign him up asap... not let him linger on his U/20's contract and then pretend to be shocked when He signs elsewhere... yet AGAIN the management at the Raiders have stuffed up and now are going to have to move mountains to keep him,.... Should have NEVER been an option for Papali to leave...

        Commenter
        Shogunmatty
        Location
        Reality
        Date and time
        February 25, 2013, 11:32AM
        • Where's Ian Schubert wheny ou need him? Next year Parra will have $2.5 million invested in 4 players ( Hopoate, Hayne, Papali and Sandow ). That will leave a little over $3 million for 21 more contracted players.

          Let me guess, Schubert will turn a blind eye to the Eels just like he did with his old buddy Nick Politis at the Roosters. How the Roosters were allowed to get away with their teams in the late 90's/early 2000's was a joke.

          Commenter
          Syd
          Date and time
          February 26, 2013, 12:40PM

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