Raiders youngster Anthony Milford has reportedly asked for a release from his Canberra contract. Photo: Melissa Adams
Fed-up Raiders development officers have demanded the NRL overhaul the system to reward clubs who develop juniors as they try desperately to keep star rookie Anthony Milford.
The Raiders' frustration is reaching breaking point as they face the prospect of losing another youngster they've spent years developing.
Canberra high-performance and development manager David Hamilton urged the NRL to seriously consider introducing transfer fees to deter clubs from poaching players others have nurtured.
The club confirmed on Monday Milford's manager, Sam Ayoub, has formally asked for a release from the final year of his contract next season to be close to his ill father in Brisbane.
The Broncos are near certain to sign Milford, who has starred in his breakthrough NRL season, should the Raiders agree to activate a clause in his contract relating to family illness.
Canberra intends to wait until after the season to resolve the 19-year-old's future.
Disillusioned by other clubs benefiting from Canberra Raiders development, Hamilton said the NRL must introduce incentives for clubs to develop their own talent.
''There has to be some sort of deterrent there,'' he said. ''Even if it is compassionate grounds, what about all the money that's been invested in Anthony? Surely the club is entitled to some sort of benefits back.
''A junior doesn't have to be from your own backyard. If you've invested in a kid and he goes through the system and someone wants to take him, you should be entitled to some decent reimbursement.''
The Raiders pride themselves on development, but Hamilton said it was frustrating when other clubs benefited.
''You start thinking are we running the business the right way?'' he said. ''We could save that money and just buy a great player. But that isn't what this club is about, we've always been about development and opportunities.''
Souths-Logan based Raiders scout Brian Edwards put Milford into Canberra's system as a 13-year-old. He backed Hamilton's call for a fairer transfer system.
''For developing your own, you have to be compensated for it,'' he said. ''If the Raiders, or any other club for that matter, want to put big money into developing players, there should be a reward. The NRL Commission is here now, they've got to investigate what is it worth to a club and the league to develop a player? You could just stop putting money into development and buy players by offering 'overs'.''
Legend Darren Lockyer applauded the salary cap for evening the competition, but agreed an incentive to develop players would be welcome.
''The salary cap's done a great job in making the competition close, but there's things that need to be tweaked,'' he said. ''If we can reward loyalty and reward clubs for developing their youngsters, I think that's great.
''I don't know the exact solution, but there's a number of things which need to be looked at and I'm hearing [NRL boss] David Smith and the commission will sit down at the end of the season and work out answers that fans, clubs and players are on the same page with.''