The NRL is taking a decisive stance on a trade window, including potential severe consequences for teams and officials violating the newly proposed anti-tampering policies.
The NRL has sought advice from clubs and the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA) to extend the regulations surrounding unauthorised discussions, addressing one of the major grievances within the game. Concurrently, talks on potentially shifting the existing November 1 trade window are ongoing.
Currently, players and agents can negotiate with other clubs without restriction, but they can only finalise a contract with another team once they enter the last year of their existing agreement on November 1. Whether this finalisation date changes or not, strict new regulations will be introduced to prohibit any discussions prior to November 1 amongst players, agents and rival clubs. Severe consequences await those who infringe upon this rule.
While the exact penalties are still under discussion, it is quite likely that player agents will be stripped of their accreditation if they break these rules. Clubs may face substantial fines or even a loss of competition points, with club officials potentially facing suspension.
The RLPA is fully supportive of this shift. Clint Newton, RLPA‘s chief executive, said, “After consultation with key stakeholders, especially clubs, we proposed these crucial changes to the contracting window. We are confident they will yield positive outcomes in this flawed area of sport.”
By enforcing these new rules, the NRL aims to reduce distractions for players coming off a contract until they can officially sign a new one. Another reason for the potential rule change and repositioning of the November 1 date is to give incumbent clubs more power in keeping their players before they hit the open market.
The push to tighten rules surrounding anti-tampering and contract negotiations has persisted for years but has constantly faced obstacles. Finally, it seems like the NRL, RLPA and clubs are in agreement to address these issues that have troubled fans for a long time.
However, these changes may not be implemented until the 2025 season and will affect the free agency class of 2026. Major names in the game, such as Clint Gutherson, Reece Walsh, Ben Hunt, Valentine Holmes, and Kotoni Staggs, among others, would require patience from rival clubs before entering discussions.
At present, the Panthers have only three free agents at the end of 2025 – Izak Tago, Mavrik Geyer and Soni Luke. In contrast, the Warriors have a whopping 13 players off-contract at the end of two more seasons, while the Broncos, Parramatta and Dolphins each have 10 players. Cronulla has nine.