Coach's Box: It's a job - transfers acceptable
There has been a lot of talk this week about player transfers, which raises questions about how that affects the player's commitment to the club for the rest of the season, how his team-mates feel and how the coach handles that player's involvement in the team.
I believe a coach is duty-bound to pick his best 17 and get them acting and playing like good mates. It is an unwritten law. I'd hate to think a coach treated a player badly because they signed with another club.
If they are good enough they should be chosen, regardless of which club they will be at the following season. If players get an inkling that they are being overlooked because they are leaving at the end of the season, the team spirit would be affected.
But when it comes to representative football, different rules should apply. Maybe this is something the new Independent Commission could establish a ruling on.
If a player signs with another code or they are going overseas then there could be a rule that they can't be chosen for representative football immediately and for "x" years.
But at club level, it is different. Sport has changed dramatically from the days when it was just part-time footy and you had a full-time job too.
At the end of the day, now it is their full-time job - and if someone offers you more money to do the same job somewhere else, there's not too many Australians who wouldn't do it.
The players are more understanding of that these days - and they would do exactly the same thing. They are all trying to amass enough money to have a good lifestyle.
And if they can show that next year is next year, as Jamal Idris has done with the Bulldogs, then they don't lose the respect of the playing group. The passion and emotion Jamal showed last Friday night in the game against the Eels, just days after signing with the Titans, made a big statement: "I am contracted for this year with the Dogs and I'm going to have a go for the rest of the season."
Sometimes you have to show that. The coach will see that in a player and coach it. It was probably a hell of a weight off his shoulders and he would have had some sleepless nights.
That's the hardest part for the fans to get their head around. If you go back a fair while to when it was part-time footy, it was your job that kept you at the footy club - and you generally didn't want to move too far away from the job.
The loyal supporter generally tends to stay in the area and may not change their job too often.
When they support their team, it's for relaxation, a hobby, albeit very intense at times - but it is not their job.
They may initially get upset when a player is leaving, but they get over it. They will still stay at the club because their loyalty is to the club and the colours. A "red and white" fan is unlikely to switch from the Dragons to the Knights in 2012 because Wayne Bennett will be there.
Loyalty for players now is not about staying at one club for their entire career. It is about being loyal for the term of their contract - has he been good to the club, done the extras, is easy to manage, puts the club first?
I don't think we should expect more than that. If you do, then you will be disappointed. You should be happy to get 5-10 years with them and some of their best football.
Our current system of player transfers in season is not great, but it is better than the old days of the June 30 deadline. It was so messy and you couldn't police it. Strangely enough, about six contracts would lob on your desk to sign on July 1.
I believe a player draft would work, but it would be a hell of a process convincing everyone. It does work for the AFL. It seem to have just been accepted there, but every time it is mentioned with us, we are bombarded with arguments of why we can't do it.
Player managers and players complain about the problem with having to relocate quickly at the end of the season if a draft was introduced, but that doesn't stack up for me.
The draft could revolve around the young players and the best 10 juniors from an area would be quarantined to another club.
Maybe the Independent Commission could address this issue too.