Three quality outside backs have suddenly come on the player market and could very well shape the NRL in 2016!
Tim Lafai, James Roberts and Peter Hiku are all free agents and as of writing this article, none has put pen to paper. Speculation is rife however that James Roberts is a certainty to sign with the Broncos.
If Souths have to move on players to fit in Sam Burgess, how can the Broncos afford the Dally M Centre of the year when you look at their roster and not jettison any players to accommodate Roberts? If Roberts signs with the Broncos it will again demonstrate the disparity between a large one team town like the Broncos and the third party deals they can use to lure elite talent to the club. Sure, it’s within the rules but the rules aren’t applied evenly are they?
The loss of Roberts leaves the Titans in a precarious position on the field but they look to be front runners to land Chris McQueen.
The obvious elephant in the room is the salary cap and how it’s applied across the 16 clubs and the fact some clubs are owned by the NRL, some publicly owned (Broncos), some privately owned and some owned by Leagues clubs. How are player salary valuations applied? Is it a level playing field when junior bases are so uneven and a one team town like Brisbane has such a massive pool of talent to choose from?
I digress, back to the player movements.
Lafai and Hiku are on the radar of the Dragons, Eels and Panthers so it’s musical chairs at thirty paces. Three into two doesn’t go and the biggest loser in all of this looks to be the Bulldogs. The Doggies signed Will Hopoate and released Tim Lafai to fit Hoppa in. A head scratcher if ever there was one given the contribution of both players last season. Had the Bulldogs waited a week they could have had a legitimate shot at Roberts but of the four players, on form Hopoate is at the bottom of this barrel.
My prediction is Lafai to the Dragons and Hiku to the Panthers and the Eels are left dateless once again.
Thankfully, few are talking about Robbie Farah this week. He must be peeved with all the attention shown to other players. What can he do to get back in the spotlight? I know, be seen at an Anthony Mundine press conference.
Interesting times in the off-season no doubt and we still don’t have a CEO to run the game as yet…