Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher wants the NRL to consider some form of salary cap compensation for development-focussed clubs whose best prospects are poached by rivals following Matt Burton’s defection to Canterbury.
Burton signed with the Bulldogs on Wednesday on a two-year deal, with an option in his favour for a third season.
The gun five-eighth, 20, will at this stage join Canterbury in 2022, linking with former Penrith assistant Trent Barrett, who has become the Bulldogs’ head coach.
It rounds out a stunning coup of signings for Barrett who was warned ahead of his appointment to the Dogs’ top job to not poach from Penrith.
While it remains to be seen if Burton may be able to join the Dogs a year early, a frustrated Fletcher has flagged his discontent at rival club’s swooping in on their talent pool without having put in any effort to develop their own crop.
“You get no compensation for it. Other clubs just come and make a big offer for them and away they go. All the hard work has been done by the coaching staff at the Panthers,” Fletcher told Nine’s Danny Weidler.
“I think you should (get compensation). I think if somehow along the line, if he’s paid X amount of dollars to go there, part of that to the first year should go back to the club that developed him.”
Fletcher also confirmed Burton, who is stuck on the sidelines behind Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai, would only be released a year early to join the Bulldogs should a one-sided deal be made in favour of the Panthers between the two clubs.
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“An exception would only be made if a compromise highly in favour of Panthers was agreed to between the two clubs,” Fletcher said.
“But at this stage he will be playing with the Panthers next year, and he understands that.”
Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill responded: “If Penrith wanted to come to us we would certainly be all ears.”
Burton will form a halves pairing with outcast Sydney Roosters player Kyle Flanagan. He also joins Penrith teammate Jack Hetherington, Canberra star Nick Cotric and Manly forward Corey Waddell as a new recruit at Belmore.
“We’re really excited, a player that a number of clubs were interested in, and to finally get his signature and agreement is a great vote of confidence in what we’re doing and where we’re heading,” Fletcher said.