TRAVELS: VIII

TravelsBy STEVE MASCORD
ON Saturday, I found myself watching half an hour of a NSW Cup game between Canterbury and Illawarra on television and the term “dual registration” popped into my mind.
I’m sure there are plenty of you out there for whom the expression conjures up the image of Satan himself.
But in Australia, almost none of the teams in the lower tiers of rugby league have any NRL aspirations and most, most of the time, are grateful to have the use of top flight professionals – even if they are in the team one week and not the next.
In Saturday’s game, shown live on Fox Sports from a baking Leichhardt Oval, Canterbury had Trent Hodkinson, Joel Romelo and John Kite while Illawarra boasted Daniel Vidot, Junior VaiVai and big Jarrad Hickey.
And this got me to thinking: wouldn’t these players be better off in Super League and Super League be better off with them? Dual registration could be of enormous benefit to the English game … if Super League clubs had players dual registered with NRL teams.
Imagine if the London Broncos fed the Brisbane Broncos, for instance. For Brisbane, Michael Robertson or Shane Rodney could be called up in time of injury while Denan Kemp, Luke Capewell and even Petero Civoniceva could turn out for London in month-long stints.
The rules of several competitions would have to change but what better way for young English players to get a taste of the NRL while Super League clubs are bolstered by some of the best talent from down under?
Jamie Soward could regain his confidence with a month at Wigan. Castleford’s link with Wests Tigers could help them retain players. The benefits would be enormous.
Obviously, the RFL rules around federation-trained players would have to change to how many imports are in the team each week, rather than for the whole season.
Work visas would also be an issue and the UK government would need to be in on the planning.
But with a bit of tinkering, the current second tier salary cap rules in the NRL would cover players called up by Super League.
Would this system be an admission that Super League itself is a second tier competition? If handled wrongly, yes. But if genuinely good players went in each direction under a carefully administered scheme, it would benefit both leagues.
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I KEEP hearing that NRL clubs are not willing to wait for Sam Tomkins to come off contract before making a play for him.
At the weekend I checked out very strong information that Gold Coast currently have an emissary in England willing to offer Wigan whatever it takes to buy out Tomkins contract.
The Titans official I spoke to was not willing to be quoted but said they were not willing to pay a transfer fee of twice the value of Tomkins current contract.
An approach had been considered, he said.
If Super League’s best player walks out of the competition and joins the NRL, what does it mean for the English game?
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THE drugs probe into Cronulla and other clubs continues to cast a pall over the opening weeks of the NRL.

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