NRL 2019: Todd Greenberg receives backing of all 16 clubs to explore trade windows

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The NRL will argue that the game's biggest stars could financially benefit from the introduction of trade windows in a bid to sway the players' union after the code moved a step closer to regulating movement between clubs.

All 16 club bosses gave their blessing for the NRL to explore the introduction of a series of trade windows throughout the year when they met at League Central on Wednesday.

  Todd Greenberg says there is an opportunity to talk more broadly about the transfer window.

Todd Greenberg says there is an opportunity to talk more broadly about the transfer window.Credit:AAP

It's the NRL's latest push to define certain times throughout the season – potentially one before the opening round, another in the vicinity of the final State of Origin match and a further window after the grand final – when players can swap clubs.

It will avoid messy scenarios, such as Ben Hunt playing an entire season for the Broncos despite signing for the Dragons and Angus Crichton announcing his intention to join the Roosters before finishing his final year at arch rivals South Sydney.

The Rugby League Players Association has already rejected the NRL's proposal for an AFL-like trade period, which extends that code's media presence well beyond the end of the season.

The earliest the NRL could have a trade period in place for would be the 2021 season.

NRL players are free to move between clubs – pending salary cap restrictions – before June 30 each season. Jesse Ramien was told his services are no longer required by Newcastle earlier this month, effectively freezing him out for the rest of the season.

While NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg admitted he wouldn't be able to stop secret discussions between players, managers and clubs year round, he was adamant a defined period for player movement would benefit the game.

While it is unclear how exactly the NRL would monetise such a model, Greenberg is set to dangle the financial carrot in front of the RLPA to help garner their support.

The NRL could offer broadcasting opportunities during trade periods, which could be bundled into its next TV deal, which is due to begin in 2023.

I'm not suggesting I'm going to be stopping clubs and coaches having coffee shop meetings. That's never going to stop.

Todd Greenberg

"The principle of having the discussion is about the fans and trying to have a more orderly approach than what we currently do," Greenberg said. "There's support for that.

"Sometimes I think it's a little messy and the fans find it very frustrating when there's this constant movement of [players] throughout a year whilst they're playing in the jersey and [for the] team they support.

"I'm not suggesting I'm going to be stopping clubs and coaches having coffee shop meetings. That's never going to stop. What I'm suggesting is there's periods of time throughout the year where we openly announce them, talk about them and disclose them.

"I'm not going to be able to stop the innuendo in your column next week about 'Player Y' talking to 'Coach X'. That's been happening for 110 years and it will keep happening. That's not what the rules are designed to do.

Transfer windows could prevent messy movement between clubs such as that of Angus Crichton.

Transfer windows could prevent messy movement between clubs such as that of Angus Crichton.Credit:NRL Photos

"The rules are designed to put some structure into that. I think the fans would enjoy that and appreciate that and I think we can build some very valuable content for the future if we do it.

"What we need to do is explain that to the players and explain to them about tidying up some of the processes, but also creating valuable content for the future part of the game."

The RLPA reiterated its stance on Wednesday that a previous proposal surrounding transfer windows put forward to them had "minimal benefits to players" and that "the freedom of player movement and contracting helps generate significant interest in the sport and balances the player talent".

"Whilst we don't always agree on things, I think there's an opportunity to think more broadly about what the longer term looks like," Greenberg said.

He stressed the debate over player contracting wouldn't be restricted just to trade windows and would also include timeframes about when clubs can table offers to rival players and manager guidelines.

The likes of Latrell Mitchell, the Trbojevic brothers, Tyson Frizell, Cody Walker and Jai Arrow can all field formal offers from other clubs on November 1 this year.

Meanwhile, the NRL expects to hand down its findings into the Mad Monday investigation surrounding Eels forward Shaun Lane before the weekend. It ensures the matter will be resolved prior to Parramatta's crucial clash with the Titans on Friday night.

Lane faces a fine after images of the 24-year-old holding a bag with a white substance during Mad Monday celebrations with former club Manly surfaced during the week. The rangy back-rower was dressed as movie character Forrest Gump and it's believed the images were sent via Snapchat.

It's expected Lane will be fined and will be available to help the Eels' finals push over the final month of the regular season.

Greenberg reminded all chief executives of the required standards of behaviour from their players before the looming Mad Monday parties.

"The onus of responsibility is on clubs and players," he said. "It's pretty simple, behave yourself, enjoy yourself but hold yourself to account and understand you represent the games at all times. What we don't need to talk about is if we ban something [like Mad Monday] or not, what we need to do is call out the right levels of behaviour."