Inside Word: Player transfer frenzy unavoidable
Much conversation this week has been focused on player movements - who will be leaving clubs and who will be staying. Jamal Idris was causing the most discussion in the lead-up to his announcement that he will be playing with the Titans in 2012.
With 171 players worth more than $21 million coming off contract at the end of this season, some say it leads to a meat market. This time of year we hear of fans' unrest, clubs being held to ransom and players accused of having their minds elsewhere, all because of players trying to shore-up their futures.
Unfortunately this cannot be avoided. Some people have called for a two-week window and a break in our season where all this is done. This would only stop the momentum of our season and anyone naïve enough to think deals would only be done in that period is dreaming.
Others have wanted players to wait until the end of the year, but no-one will wait that long for their future to be sorted. Nor will a coach put up with not knowing what his team is going to look like next year.
And don't forget the player who would play his last game in October then maybe have to relocate his family in four weeks to move clubs with no preparation at all. The single players would handle it, but trust me, the ears of the married boys with families would be hurting if the partners/wives were given four weeks to find new schools for the kids, new house, new lives!
Which brings me back to Idris. I thought Jamal and the Bulldogs handled it really well. His form was great the whole time; his teammates were respectful of his position; and his club, who desperately wanted to keep the young star, treated the situation in Bulldog-like fashion - professionally.
We all know the media loves a good drama and by being upfront and honest the whole time this deal went through without a hitch. There were no cloak and dagger headlines and the Titans the Bulldogs and Jamal came out of it all unscathed.
From the start Idris stated he was going to talk to other clubs as well as the Bulldogs. Fair enough... why wouldn't he? I am sure a builder who was offered a job at a rival company would at least hear them out and have a chat. In the end Jamal decided to sign with the Titans only four rounds into the competition, his form was good and his team was not affected. Players accept this is part of the game and it honestly doesn't affect their performance or desire to win for their current team.
When I signed with Wigan in 2006, leaving St George-Illawarra after 10 seasons, I was even more determined to play well and make the grand final for my last game. History shows we fell one short and my time at the Dragons ended a week earlier than I had hoped.
Teammates are the closest thing to family and it is hard leaving a place you love and one which has been a huge part of your life for so long. Any fan thinking these players won't be putting in and saving themselves for next year would be wrong - the opposite will happen and hopefully you will get to send them off in a grand final. I know big Jamal will be dreaming of that!