Round 13 rule needs to go: Tongue
All smiles ... Josh Papalii will stay with Canberra. Photo: Colleen Petch
Canberra Raiders legend Alan Tongue has called for the round 13 recruiting clause to be scrapped, branding it ‘‘a bad look’’ which places unfair pressure on young players.
The Raiders on Friday took advantage of the rule by convincing back-rower Josh Papalii to renege on a three-year deal he signed with Parramatta to remain in the capital until 2016.
While happy the club he represented 220 times has retained one of the game’s best youngsters, Tongue said it had been used as a ‘‘bargaining tool’’ by his manager Col Davis.
The NRL doesn’t register contracts until the end of round 13, giving the Raiders time to put in a better offer.
Canberra officials were furious when Papalii informed them he signed with Parramatta after being told of the round 13 rule by Davis.
‘‘I think it definitely needs to be looked at. Everybody’s played by the rules here, but it’s just not a good look and I don’t think players should be put in that situation,’’ Tongue said.
‘‘I think it’s the exact way it’s played out, it [round 13 rule] was used as a bargaining tool, there’s ducks and drakes going on here and that’s the way it works.
‘‘The player is put in a no-win situation in regards to how he’s going to be dealt with by the fans.
‘‘If you want to play with a club you sign and you stay with them, if you don’t you don’t sign it. It’s as simple as that, we try and overcomplicate our game so often.’’
Raiders prop David Shillington said the news was a massive boost ahead of the season opener at Penrith on Sunday.
But it’s a huge blow to the Eels, who had already been turned down by representative stars Matt Scott, James Tamou, Greg Bird, Michael Jenning and Israel Folau.
‘‘He certainly will come under some criticism from Parramatta, and I’m sure they’ll be filthy they missed out on him,’’ Shillington said.
‘‘But at the end of the day he hasn’t broken any rules. Papa is no stranger to controversy, he had to go through the Queensland-New Zealand tug-of-war last year and he had to deal with that.
‘‘I remember we spoke at the time and I said whatever decision you make, there’s going to be a huge drama so you’ve got to do what you believe in and what your family believes in. This Parramatta versus Raiders thing has been pretty similar.’’
Despite signing with the Eels, Papalii addressed the Raiders squad declaring his desire to stay at the club before their trial win against Canterbury at Goulburn two weeks ago.
‘‘He’d already given us indications he wanted to stay, obviously he’s a very popular member of the squad and wanted him to stay. We got a taste of what he can achieve last year and I think we’re going to see a fair bit more as he keeps developing,’’ Shillington said.
Papalli will avoid the daunting task of playing in front of the Eels faithful this year, with their two sides to meet at Canberra Stadium in round 19.
And Shillington said his teammates would have his back.
‘‘He’ll be well protected by the club ... I don’t think he’ll need too much help, he’s a strong fella ... it could be a heated game when we play Parramatta, but he’ll be well looked after by his teammates,’’ Shillington said.
Meanwhile, Reece Robinson (back), Josh Dugan (lip infection) and Jarrod Croker (knee) are all still a chance of playing against the Panthers on Sunday.
A squad of 19 will travel to Penrith on Saturday, suggesting coach David Furner is confident at least one of the injured trio will play.
Despite not being named in the side on Tuesday, Dugan is highly likely to take his place at fullback, with centre Croker also rated a strong hope.
Robinson is likely to be omitted after straining his back in a weights session.
Should Dugan play and only one of Robinson or Croker be ruled out, it is likely Jack Wighton will retain his place, with winger Edrick Lee the unlucky player to drop out.
‘‘Dugan and Croker are going to be close, both trained Thursday and looked pretty good,’’ Furner said.
‘‘If Croker is confident and he’s right he’ll play, otherwise I’ve got Jack there and he’s trained with the side the whole week.’’