With the off-season almost halfway through many teams are preparing for pre-season friendlies and finalising their squads for the 2023 season but uncertainty remains in Australia and it could impact three young English stars.
The NRL is close to a state of gridlock at the moment due to a breakdown over the Collective Bargaining Agreement not being signed and the salary cap being unconfirmed meaning many clubs find themselves unable to tie down players for the future.
That hasn’t stopped some clubs making monster deals including Parramatta Eels extending their young star half-back Dylan Brown for eight years until 2031, however because teams are seemingly utilising money to ensure their marquee players are locked down it leaves a lot of other star players uncontracted beyond the 2023 season.
Over 150 players are set to have their contract expire at the end of the 2023 season so it isn’t uncommon but with the current CBA issues that are being highlighted by the player’s association, RLPA, led by former Hull KR star Clint Newton and the fact that the English talents on the list are elite there’s potential that they could be snapped up by Super League sides in a bid to secure their future.
Herbie Farnworth, Dom Young and Victor Radley are the three English players under 25 with World Cup performances in that list and none of them have a contract beyond the current season.
Farnworth who turns 23 this week has come through at Brisbane and established himself as one of the league’s best centres and scored two tries in the World Cup semi-final against Samoa to show he can do it on the international stage as well.
Another man who shone at the World Cup was 21-year-old winger Dom Young who plays for Newcastle Knights and the six foot seven inches tall star racked up eight tries in the group stages alone.
One man who performed brilliantly on the pitch but drew attention off it was Victor Radley and the Sydney Roosters forward who is 24 ended his World Cup with a reported altercation at the team hotel involving Leeds Rhinos’ Irish international James Bentley.
The Roosters and the NRL are still waiting to see if the RFL discipline Radley but with him free to negotiate with other clubs and leave at the end of the season that should be the least of their worries.
Young is the only one of the trio who has played domestic rugby in England having made the switch to the NRL after coming through at Huddersfield Giants, whereas Farnworth moved down under after completing studies in England and Radley was born in Australia.
Despite that there is a possibility, albeit quite slim, that we could see one or more of these immense talents feature in Super League for the 2024 season as uncertainty over contracts for young men who have only been playing professionally for less than five years could see them seek the security of a big contract in their representative nation of England.
With the most recent report from Zero Tackle that industrial action in some form of strike could take place if the situation regarding the salary cap and CBA isn’t resolved there’s a lot of uncertainty for the future of this talented trio.