Tigers chairman Lee Hagipantelis has slammed rivals for “exploiting” the August 1 signing deadline after finals contenders raided the merger club’s outside back stocks.
Bellamy’s Storm signed flyer David Nofoaluma, while the Roosters acquired English import Oliver Gildart’s services for the remainder of 2022.
While Hagipantelis agrees there are some benefits of letting players go on short-term loans — he believes clubs should have to look within for recruits to replace injured or suspended squad members.
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“My personal view is I am not a fan of the transfer system this late in the season, I agree with Peter V’landys that it is there to be exploited,” Hagipantelis said on Fox Sports News.
“The intentions when it was introduced were all very altruistic to assist during the Covid pandemic, but it has gone further than that now.
“And if there is one thing that NRL clubs are good at doing, that is exploiting the rules.
“I think that this late in the season, clubs that are struggling for reasons of injury or suspension should look to themselves, it is a test of their own resilience and their depth.
“I am not in favor of the top four or top eight teams cherry-picking from the bottom eight to enhance their prospects of a premiership, they should be relying on their own assets.
“But as I say, the rules are there to be exploited.”
Hagipantelis was also asked how he thinks the fans have reacted to the club allowing players to leave for the remainder of 2022 — revealing the overwhelming response was positive.
“I think it has been understanding, I think people understand that there is a forensic and financial advantage to an NRL club in this loan system,”
“There can be advantages to the player as well to experience an alternate reality and then come back, David Nofoaluma is a perfect example.
“I know David personally, I think it will be very good for him to get away from Sydney to play in Melbourne and in all likelihood play in the finals.
“He is very keen on coming back to the Wests Tigers with that experience under his belt, we see how David plays when he plays for Samoa when he has something to play for.”
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The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield revealed on NRL360 ARLC chairman Peter V’landys was set to move to August 1 deadline back to its original June 30 date.
In 2020, the cut-off was moved to assist teams stuck in Queensland fill their squads without reserve grade competitions taking the field.
NRL360 co-host Paul Kent was “disappointed” the NRL didn’t have the foresight to shift the date back, labeling it an “oversight” from powerbrokers.
“The whole thing is a win for common sense, it needed to happen, I am disappointed it was allowed to happen this year, I think it was an oversight that they have allowed it to happen,” Kent said.
“The fact is, this is wrong for so many reasons this August 1 deadline, it is allowing teams to troubleshoot their rosters.
“The part of the game’s appeal is your 30-man roster gets you through the season, and it is the attrition and the endurance to last the season and to get to the finals in a good state of fitness.
“If you can’t do that for whatever reason… so be it, but that is a part of the magic of this competition.”
Fox League’s James Hooper agreed, explaining clubs making late-season signings “cheapens” the values that NRL clubs have stood for.
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It has long been the attitude of the rugby league fraternity that your roster is what you have to work with for that season, and if replacements are needed they came from reserve grade.
Now clubs are able to cast an eye across the competition and cherry pick the best players from teams who will not be playing football finals.
“For a game that has been founded on tribalism, it just cheapens that whole concept because for the weaker clubs, what does it say for their fans,” Hooper said.
“They don’t get anything out of the fact that the strong clubs sit back and know the deadline is looming, know they have got time.
“Look at the Storm, how many players did they go after from Reece Walsh to Adam Doueihi… the list went on.
“That can’t be sitting well with the clubs down the bottom of the ladder.”
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“For those middle teams… they get no benefit out of it, and I actually believe they are harmed by it because they can’t troubleshoot,” Kent said.
“The middle teams are not attracting players and they aren’t loaning players because it is just too tight, they need all hands on deck.
“They were being impacted, it was basically strengthening the top four teams who have the ability to go and pick the eyes out, as has happened, of the bottom four teams and just target their better players.”