NEWCASTLE Rugby League officials have moved to close the loophole that has allowed players to sign more than one contract before settling on a club.
Under current rules, players are not fully signed to a club until a contract and a registration form have been submitted. This rule allowed Lakes United to retain second-rower Cruise Wilson, even though he signed a contract with South Newcastle in the pre-season.
Wilson did not sign a registration form with Souths, which is needed for insurance. He then changed his mind and completed a contract and registration form with Lakes.
At Tuesday night’s board meeting, the NRL voted that the first contract signed by the player would be binding, regardless of whether a registration form has been signed.
Contractual disputes also have played out this season involving Maitland hooker PJEllis and prop Adam Withyman and Western Suburbs prop Jack Afamasaga.
Newcastle Rugby League chairman Trevor Crow has had to personally help resolve several of the contractual wrangles and is fed up with the situation.
‘‘We made a decision now that the rego form doesn’t matter, the contract is going to be the binding document with or without the rego form,’’ Crow said. ‘‘A contract is something you travel to meet with someone, pen in hand, to sign with intent.
‘‘All those club secretaries out there who think their players have already been spoken to so early for 2013, please make their players aware that if they sign a contract without a rego form, a contract is going to be the binding contract from here on in.’’
Crow said some clubs were already looking to poach players from rivals for next season, so he had instructed general manager John Fahey to write to clubs to outline the changes and make all players aware of the rules.
One of the biggest rumours circulating is that Wests are making overtures to lure Cessnock’s gun hooker, Terence Seu Seu, to Harker Oval next season.
Rosellas president Wayne Hore strongly denied the club was chasing the former Knights, Cronulla and Manly rake.
‘‘There’s a lot of that rumour going around, but we’ve never made any approaches and he’s never made any approaches to us,’’ Hore said.
Cessnock officials are privately seething about the speculation that the Rosellas are chasing the league’s premier player and Kiwi prop Tom Pelo.
Seu Seu was been a sensation since joining the Goannas this season from Manly, and Pelo has been impressive coming off the bench.