IT'S ironic that on the same day Lance Armstrong admitted he was a phony and the Australian cricket team batted like imposters and the Gold Coast Titans were caught trying to pull off one of the most audacious heists in the recent history of the game.
Secretly, the Titans had been in negotiation with Sea Eagles captain Jamie Lyon for two weeks, despite the fact the season will kick off in less than two months.
This subterfuge, obviously orchestrated by the desperate Titans but with the knowledge of Lyon, his manager and members of the Manly hierarchy, is almost as tasteless as the Lance Armstrong scandal.
In the end, sanity prevailed. Lyon is staying at Brookvale and the Sea Eagles are apparently now looking to tie him up for the remainder of his career.
And, lo and behold, the Titans have declared they will not be seeking his services from next season onwards, when his current contract expires.
Rugby league is about to enter a golden era. The billion dollars-plus TV deal and other massive sponsorship agreements has the game positioned for continued growth.
And with the season still a couple of months away, interest in the game is seemingly at fever pitch.
I can't recall so many footy-starved fans.
But while John Grant and the ARL Commission has done an outstanding job getting the greatest game of all back on track after a period of indecision, this player negotiation rigmarole has become a blight on the game, and an embarrassment.
It reeks of amateurism, and is unacceptable.
That Jamie Lyon and the despairing Titans could even conjure up the idea that a switch in clubs was possible at this stage of the pre-season is inexcusable.
Lyon is not only Manly's captain, he is their goalkicker, most influential player and one of their biggest stars.
Imagine how robbed a new season member at Brookvale would have felt had Lyon skipped out, just weeks before the season kicked-off. Probably the same way the Panthers fans are feeling after Michael Jennings, a genuine tryscorer and superstar, was allowed a release only last week.
But the solution to this shemozzle is simple.
Introduce a specific period at season's end when negotiations are permitted. I suggest a two-week window immediately after the grand final, although some believe that is not long enough.
But Michael Jennings didn't have an issue with moving clubs, mid-week, and neither did Denan Kemp who was released by the Dragons last week and will be at Broncos training this morning.
Sure the players need to be considered, as do the clubs. But it's well and truly time the NRL put the fans first.This calamity needs immediate attention.
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