Years of frustration have bubbled over for Wayne Bennett who has slammed the round 13 registration rule as a “farce” and described the NRL administration as a “laughing stock”.
The frenzy over Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans’ future prompted NRL boss Dave Smith to reiterate on Friday that he would look at scrapping the controversial clause.
Under current laws, Manly have until round 13 to convince Cherry-Evans to stay at Brookvale despite the match-winner signing a four-year deal with Gold Coast from 2016.
Bennett said he had been shaking his head over the clause for years and all but dared Smith to bite the bullet, end the fans’ suffering and follow every other major sport’s lead by establishing a trade window.
“It’s a farce, it’s a joke and it’s embarrassing,” he said.
“All of a sudden, someone at the top must have got embarrassed about it because now they are doing something when people such as myself have spoken about this for five or six years at least.
“We just have to have a strong enough administrator to make a hard decision that isn’t going to please everybody.”
Asked if the NRL were a laughing stock, Bennett said: “Of course they are.
“It defies everything.
“To think that you can sign a contract and then two months later you can change your mind, it just doesn’t happen in the real world.
“Stuff like that is making us look silly.”
Smith said he would reassess the round 13 clause that was introduced under the previous David Gallop administration in a bid to stop players signing for rival clubs, at times with years left on their current contract.
“I’ve asked for the options to be considered,” he said.
“My own view is it’s not in the best interests of the fans and therefore it’s one of the rules that needs to change.
“It was something that was in place well before my time but nonetheless it’s a rule that needs to be looked at, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
New NRL head of strategy Shane Richardson is currently reviewing player transfer models with a long-term view of introducing a draft system and transfer windows.
It is believed the NRL transfer window would be similar to that in the English Premier League which has an end-of-season trade period between June 9 and September 1 and a mid-season period in January.
But Bennett was frustrated it had taken this long for the NRL to act.
“It is pretty simple, I don’t see what is complex about it,” he said of establishing a trade window.
“The difficult part is someone making a hard decision and that’s what they don’t want to do.
“They are trying to put bandaids on something that is haemorrhaging.”
Bennett said dead-last Manly were clearly distracted by the Cherry-Evans speculation.
“(But) the key victims here are the fans,” he said.