Wide World of Sports legend Ken Sutcliffe has brought to attention “a bad look” potentially set to arise amid the Brandon Smith saga, as a result of the NRL‘s player-transfer system and the decisions of the Melbourne superstar.
Sutcliffe says NRL players negotiating future contracts with rival clubs with a year still to run on their current deals are “spitting in the faces of the fans”.
Felise Kaufusi (Dolphins), Reed Mahoney (Bulldogs) and Isaiah Papali’i (Tigers) are among the high-profile players who have already signed with rivals from 2023 since the beginning of the new transfer window, which opened on November 1.
But off-season headlines have been dominated by Smith, who’s all but certain to sign with the Roosters from 2023. He’s contracted to the Storm for 2022.
Smith inadvertently highlighted the contentious nature of the NRL’s transfer system when he made a staggering admission on the YKTR podcast last week.
The New Zealand Test rake admitted to looking at a Roosters jumper on a recent visit to the Tricolours and thinking, “I want to win a premiership in that jersey”.
His comments on the podcast prompted the Storm to release a scathing statement and slam the door shut on trying to retain him beyond 2022.
The fiasco has now led to Sutcliffe suggesting that, after eventually finalising his Roosters deal, Smith will take extra caution in his last year at the Storm to protect his body.
Brandon Smith angers Storm with podcast
“If you’ve signed a deal with somebody 18 months out … in the back of your mind (you’re thinking), ‘I’m getting $500,000 a year right now, but when I go to this next contract … I’m going to be getting $800,000’,” Sutcliffe said on 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.
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“In the back of your mind is, ‘I have got to look after myself, I don’t want to get injured, this deal is dependent on me coming through the next 18 months injury-free’.
“In every way it’s just a bad look, a really bad look.”
Sutcliffe, a sports media icon whose decorated career spanned 50 years, likes to use a certain analogy when discussing the NRL’s transfer system.
“I always come back to this,” Sutcliffe said.
“Can you imagine me going up to (former Nine Network owner) Kerry Packer or (former Nine chief executive) David Leckie or (former Nine CEO) Sam Chisholm and saying, ‘Look, I’ve got another year to run on my contract but after that I’m joining Channel Seven’?
“‘Do you mind? I’ll work for you for the next 12 months’.
“Mate, they’d just explode.
“I just can’t believe (it) … Rugby league, which is very tribal … And you just really spit in the faces of the fans when you do that sort of thing.”
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