Bronco Ashley Taylor-made for contract clause
AFTER yet another sparkling display from Broncos' halves Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford, Wayne Bennett echoed the sentiments of the club faithful who have savoured just two premierships in the past 15 years.
"Not having an established halfback cost us a couple of premierships during the two thousands," the cagey old coach muttered as his loyal subjects nodded in agreement.
But while those same supporters concur that the Hunt-Milford duo is the best since the four premiership-winning Langer and Walters combination, they might also wonder why the Broncos are allowing another budding champion to slip through their net.
At his request, the Broncos have agreed to release Junior Kangaroos and Queensland under 20s Origin halfback, Ashley Taylor, from the final year of his contract.
Taylor turned 20 in March and has been on the Broncos' books since he was 14.
There are several reasons the Broncos have agreed to release him - the major one being the Hunt-Milford combination. As Bennett rightly points out, in Hunt (24) and Milford (21) the Broncos have a stable halves combination for up to a decade if they stay together. And that obviously limits the opportunities for Taylor.
Another telling factor is the salary cap. Although virtually a second-tier player without an NRL appearance, Taylor is apparently on big money, and stockpiling potential NRL stars on big dollars does not make economic sense - as well as being salary cap suicide.
Other clubs, most notably the Warriors and the Panthers who have flourishing nurseries, have also played the benevolence card this season and released players whose careers they felt were being stymied by the lack of NRL opportunity.
But while this compassion may be beneficial to the player involved, and a good look for the game, it does little to help those clubs who have nurtured these young players. And that is why a specific clause needs to be included in the contract signed by players who are released by clubs on these compassionate grounds.
If Ashley Taylor signs with the Titans - as is speculated - the Broncos should be automatically given final call on his services when that contract expires.
And so should the Panthers, the Warriors and any other club that has allowed a contracted player to leave under similar circumstances.
After all, compassion should be a two-way street.
And while Broncos fans no doubt respect the musings of Bennett, there is no gilt-edged guarantee the Hunt-Milford combination will be a decade-long triumph.