Cherry-Evans backs reintroduction of ‘backflip’ contract clause

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The star at the centre of the NRL’s most famous backflip, Daly Cherry-Evans, has welcomed the return of a controversial contract clause, but claims the biggest issue that needs addressing in negotiations is the role of player managers.

Cherry-Evans famously reneged on a four-year, multimillion-dollar deal with the Gold Coast in 2015 to instead accept a $10 million “lifetime” contract with Manly. “DCE” availed himself of a 10-day cooling-off period that gave the Sea Eagles time to make a last-ditch pitch to retain the halfback, which he ultimately accepted.

The Manly skipper’s decision sparked outrage in some quarters, prompting the NRL to abolish the rule. However, head office has reintroduced a similar “last right of negotiation” clause, which allows clubs a 10-day period to convince an off-contract player to stay and not join a rival.

The change was made after consultation between the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association, of which Cherry-Evans is the general president.

Almost a decade after copping widespread criticism for reneging on the Titans deal, Cherry-Evans welcomed the return of the contract clause.

“I have always been a big advocate of the players always having the freedom to move around and do what’s best for their families,” Cherry-Evans said. “I know a lot of people want to talk about how it looks from the fans’ point of view but, at the end of the day, we don’t play this game for long and we need to take advantage of every situation.

Daly Cherry-Evans reneged on a deal with Gold Coast in 2015 to accept a $10 million “lifetime” contract with Manly.Credit: Getty

“I don’t think we’ve ever gone at the fans for changing jobs – it’s just our profession, our workplace. If we get a better offer to go somewhere, I’ve got absolutely no problem to go with it. I’m always pro player on these sorts of things. Whether this is the right model we’ve got in place, I don’t know. Time will tell.”

Some clubs privately feel the change will make it harder for weaker teams to prise a marquee player from a stronger one. However, the veteran playmaker, in camp with the Prime Minister’s XIII side ahead of their clash with Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on Saturday, welcomed the move.

“It’s not leaving the current clubs high and dry – that’s always an important thing, particularly if you’re a young player coming through and the club has nurtured you through the juniors,” Cherry-Evans said. “It’s a great idea to give the club you’re at the last chance to keep you. It’s good for club and player.”

However, Cherry-Evans felt the biggest blight on the transfer market was the conduct of some player managers.

“Let’s be honest, is it really going to tidy up the contracting model?” he said. “If player managers are going to want to move you on, are you really going to stay?

“We don’t talk about the player managers enough in this situation. If the game wants to completely tidy it up, they need to get everyone involved; and that’s not just the players and clubs. That’s my opinion on it.

“What we’ve got now will be great for the short term and if that’s going to work long term, then we’ll keep it. I think there’s more people involved than just players and clubs, let’s not be naive about this.”

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