THE new dual registration system has split Championship opinion – is it a chance for top young English players to figure at a higher level, or a loaded system that aids Super League clubs significantly more than their partners?
This month’s edition of Rugby League World has canvassed opinions of the scheme to decide whether or not it is working.
While some have embraced the new concept with open arms, others have been quick to point out its limitations and fear that it could compromise the integrity of the competition outside the top-flight.
The Blackpool Panthers coach Martin Crompton described the dual registration signings of Wigan duo Neil Holland and Chris Tuson as “like winning the lottery” for his club, highlighting the benefits of linking with one of the sport’s biggest names.
Widnes Vikings and Leigh Centurions have seen their squads boosted significant through the scheme, and outpost clubs London Skolars and South Wales Scorpions have profited from the arrival of talented youngsters from their Super League partners.
Other clubs have deliberately avoided the idea, feeling that the uncertainty surround the deals – whereby Super League clubs decide on a weekly basis whether those players will be available or not – could disrupt their squads.
Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith has allowed three young players- Lee Mitchell, Tyrone McCarthy and Matty Blythe – to join Leigh under the system, and believes it is working well.
“It’s worked well for us so far and been very positive,” Smith told RLW.
“It’s a tougher competition with hardened players, and I know it will prepare them if and when they get an opportunity back in Super League. There are a lot of benefits for young English players, and it’s a chance to play at a higher level.”
Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston has reservations, but believes it can worked if used properly, after signing Hull FC Mike Burnett.
“It’s definitely more of a benefit to the Super League club,” Aston said.
“And if you have four dual registration players at your club, then your fortunes can potentially turn around pretty quickly. You could go to having all four to none very quickly if injuries kick in.
“But if it’s done correctly, and the players are allowed to come and train with the Championship club, then it can work.”
Widnes Vikings coach Terry O’Connor is unequivocal about his stance on dual registration.
“I think it’s a brilliant system,” O’Connor said.
“Yes the players can be called back, but that’s just part of how it works. I would much rather see talented young British players being given a chance rather than signing up a load of overseas players to fill jerseys. Just look at Mark Flanagan. Eighteen months ago he was on loan at Halifax, and now he’s lining up in the second row for Wests Tigers alongside Gareth Ellis.
“We have a British player starting at second row in the NRL – and not long ago he was playing in the Championship. There are players like him that need to be given a chance.”
By GARETH WALKER
The full article can be read in the May 2010 edition of Rugby League World, available from Friday 2nd April.