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RFL looking to central contracts

Press Association logoPress Association 2/02/2017 Ian Laybourn

The Rugby Football League is looking at bringing in central contracts in a bid to stop players leaving for rugby union and the NRL.

Roger Draper, who became chief commercial officer at the RFL in December, spoke of the pressing need to retain elite players at the launch of the 2017 Super League season.

His comments come in the wake of record-breaking winger Denny Solomona's controversial switch of codes while Dan Sarginson is the latest England player to make the move to the NRL.

"I'm firmly of the view, having run other sports, that if you haven't got the best talent, people won't buy tickets, you won't get sponsors and you won't get the TV money," Draper said.

"I know from my tennis days, people want to watch Federer, Nadal, Djovokic and Murray and, if you don't have them playing in your competition, then they won't buy in.

"There's no one magic fix but we're having a debate around the salary cap, marquee players and central contracts to keep some of those talented players.

"We recognise over the last few years we've been losing talent to the NRL and to Premiership rugby so we've got to do something about that."

Former England captain Kevin Sinfield will be given a key role in the implementation of central contracts in the role of RFL director of rugby which he took up five months ago.

"Central contracts have been talked about for a number of years now," Sinfield said at the launch. "A lot of other sports are going about and I think it is a natural progression for us.

"If we are really serious about international rugby, especially with 2021 around the corner, I think it's the way forward. We need to try and make funds available.

"I don't think it will be this year, but if it can be put in place before the next cycle leading up to the 2021 World Cup, it would be brilliant."

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