Loyalty list that shames Greatest Game of All
This is the list that shames the Greatest Game of All.
Just 44 players have become one-club legends through 200 matches over the past decade.
That's not even five a season.
And the NRL is still struggling to find a solution to the fans' greatest gripe - players quitting contracts midterm to sign with rival clubs.
Ryan Matterson started at Parramatta, joined Sydney Roosters, then Wests Tigers and is now back at the Eels - all within the past five years.
The constant switching between clubs is infuriating supporters and NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said he wanted to "change the player contracting model".
It's a sad indictment on rugby league when just nine current players - Cameron Smith, Daly Cherry-Evans, Alex Glenn, Mitch Aubusson, Andrew McCullough, Jake Friend, Jarrod Croker, Chris Lawrence and Jesse Bromwich - have played 200 matches or more at their only club.
As one long-serving NRL club official said: "Players seem to be switching clubs every second week these days. Where has the integrity gone in our game? What about the honour when signing a contract?"
Legendary former Bulldogs halfback Steve Mortimer, who played 272 first grade games at the one club, said: "I had plenty of opportunities to join other clubs for better money but stayed to play with my brothers (Chris and Peter).
"I think a lot of people respected me being a one-club player. I wasn't worried about money. I've got no doubt the fans get disappointed when players move around mid-contract. It has a lot to do with the player managers. They do it for money."
Another prominent official said: "It does go both ways. Players move here and there year after year. But when there is a player who shows some loyalty, the clubs can piss him off pretty quickly if his form drops."
Manly forward Steve Menzies played 349 games for the one club. He still had a Sea Eagles contract during the Northern Eagles' three seasons.
"It's more of a business these days," Menzies said. "The bigger the money becomes, the more professional it is and it becomes about livelihoods and families. I am a loyal person but I understand the other side of it.
"You only have a certain time in the game and have to do the best you can. That's acceptable. It's not always about money.
"You have to do what is best for your career - to play finals, grand finals, to play under a certain coach or player. Not many players move clubs for less money."
Greenberg's preference for an off-season transfer window has been met with opposition from the RLPA.
"We understand there is a sentiment that player movement is messy and undesirable, but we don't believe implementing specific windows will reduce the speculation that goes on in relation to player movement, irrespective of how accurate it is," RLPA chief operating officer Tim Lythe said.
"Properly enforcing and policing a trade and transfer window will cost time and financial resources that, in our opinion, is better spent elsewhere.
"We deal with a significant number of situations where players are told they are no longer wanted, despite having time to run on their contract.
"Limiting a player's ability to move in such circumstances will not be beneficial for the player or the club.
"This is an area that needs to be looked at in totality."
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