James Maloney, who signed with the Sydney Roosters 14 months before his first game with them, believes there is no better player transfer system available to the game's officials.
Maloney's signing with the Roosters in November 2011, before he played another season with his incumbent club the Warriors, sparked criticism of the system - in the same way Josh Papalii's potential move to Parramatta has.
But Maloney said the fact he knew he was playing for another club did not affect his game last year - and in fact maintained that he deliberately made the decision so early so he would not be distracted in his final year with the Warriors.
''That was the whole idea,'' Maloney said. ''I wanted to get it done before the season was under way. Towards the end of the previous year, there had already been talk about what I was doing when I was off contract. It would have kept popping up, so it was good to be able to put it to bed. The players that you play with, they don't mind that you're moving on. Everyone understands. It's a business, and I never came across any boys who were dirty on it. It was done and as long as I put my best foot forward, no one was worried.
''I don't think it affected me. I don't think last year was my best year, but I don't think it was the decision. I didn't find it a distraction at all.
''There were a few jokes amongst the boys, blokes making sure I went into the right sheds when we played the Roosters, but at the end of the day, everyone understood.''
Papalii is still wrestling with his decision, even though the Eels have trumpeted the signing. Having signed a contract with the Eels, Papalii can still back out of the deal before round 13 this year, and Canberra officials believe there is a strong chance that he will.
While he acknowledges that the system would be frustrating for supporters, Maloney said he didn't believe officials had come up with a better one. ''I don't have an issue with it,'' he said.
''I can understand why it's hard for the fans, knowing players are signing 12 months out. It's not ideal. But we had the June 30 deadline before that, but it was pretty obvious to everyone that a lot was being done and finalised before that. And the transfer window at the end of the season - you can't just pack up and move your family on a dime. We don't have a perfect system.''
Brian McClennan, who coached Maloney for the majority of last season, said he didn't believe the five-eighth's early decision affected the squad.
''Every player has the right to secure his future,'' McClennan said. ''They're not talking about it - they're concentrating on their next game. From my point of view, once they sign a contract, that's it - they just compete. They don't walk around wondering about their pay cheque.''
- Sydney Morning Herald
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