A flurry of mid-season signings are expected in coming weeks as NRL clubs aim to secure their required 29 players before the August 2 signing deadline.
But clubs are all battling the challenges of COVID-19 and a tidal wave of injuries as clubs frantically search for missing pieces to complete their squads.
On Monday St George Illawarra confirmed the signing of former Penrith forward Kaide Ellis for the remainder of the season and director of pathways Ian Millward said every club was in “constant dialogue” to find available players.
According to Millward, the shortened season and current wave of injuries throughout the NRL competition have contributed to the difficulty of signing players mid-season.
“Clubs at present are reluctant to let players go due to the current wave of injuries throughout the competition, while the players themselves are nervous because there‘s no reserve grade at present,“ Millward said.
“Another challenge is that a lot of other clubs are still looking for players themselves. We fielded phone calls from the Raiders last week, as an example, who too are short on middles while we‘re on the phone to 14 other clubs trying to do the same thing.
“It‘s a cycle in the NRL at the moment. Clubs are in constant dialogue as they look to secure the required 29 players before the August signing deadline.”
Ellis – an ex Holden Cup, Canterbury Cup NSW and NRL State Championship winner – will join his new St George Illawarra teammates this week.
The 23-year-old Dubbo product has played eight first grade games to date, all with the Panthers.
Millward said Ellis‘s inclusion for the remainder of 2020 was key for the Dragons’ depth.
“Kaide is a very formidable figure and has been a standout in the Canterbury Cup over the past few seasons, and all the while has always being on the periphery of first grade selection,” he said.
“Kaide comes with high credentials in regard to his attitude and work ethic and will be a good inclusion to our squad character-wise.
“Kaide was off contract with the Panthers and we have now presented him an opportunity to put a stake down at the Dragons moving forward.
“The key for the Dragons was to find a back-up behind our current squad.”