If off-contract Jason Taumalolo leaves North Queensland, teammate Gavin Cooper hopes it is for the NFL and not another NRL club.
Cowboys back-rower Cooper has thrown his support behind Taumalolo’s recent NFL trial in Los Angeles with Cronulla’s Valentine Holmes despite sparking a club backlash.
Club bosses are keen to put a clause in standard NRL contracts that prevents players attending NFL trials.
Existing standard contracts only stop NRL players trialling with rugby union or AFL clubs despite Jarryd Hayne’s NFL breakthrough.
But Queensland State of Origin forward Cooper has no problem with his teammate trying out for the NFL.
He even preferred Taumalolo signed with a NFL club rather than see this year’s joint Dally M Medallist run out for another NRL team.
“I like the idea of the boys going over there and learning new skills or trialling,” Cooper said.
“I think they are being pretty honest in telling the club when they are going.
“I didn’t think they would have to tell them if they didn’t want to.
“If Jase was to leave our club, I hope it is to the NFL not another NRL club.”
But it seems the days of NRL players attending NFL trials are numbered.
The club bosses’ stance was backed by NRL chief Todd Greenberg after this week’s CEOs’ conference.
“The clubs have made it clear that they don’t want their players going to another code, including NFL, and risking serious injury,” Greenberg told News Corp Australia.
“That is a view the NRL shares.
“They are paid to play rugby league so we cannot let them promote another code while they are registered with the NRL.”
Cowboys assistant David Fairleigh did not support Taumalolo’s recent NFL trial and all but dismissed it as a publicity stunt.
“It’s probably something I wouldn’t do,” he said.
“There’s been a bit of media about people going over there – I think it is more PR than anything.”
Queensland coach Kevin Walters backed the NRL clubs’ stance after naming Holmes on Friday in a 20-strong Emerging Maroons’ squad.
“I do applaud the NRL for that,” he said.
“If you are locked into a club, you should be playing for that club and exploring your options after that.”