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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Callinan

Walsh linked to Hawks as clubs juggle new points system

Two-time Newcastle Rugby League player of the year Luke Walsh has been linked with the recently promoted Northern Hawks. Picture by Jonathan Carroll

TWO-TIME Newcastle Rugby League player of the year Luke Walsh has been linked to the recently promoted Northern Hawks as all clubs deal with a new points system for 2023.

Although not officially confirmed, former NRL halfback Walsh seems poised to depart Central and join the Hawks in what would be a handy acquisition for the emerging outfit's first season in the top grade.

However, the Hawks, along with the remaining 10 sides, have been left juggling the books because of statewide changes implemented by NSW Rugby League (NSWRL).

According to some Newcastle RL coaches, the main concern centres around the weighting of an "impact transfer" which is essentially worth 20 percent of game-day points.

NSWRL basically refers to an "impact transfer" as "a local junior player moving to another club in the same competition".

An "impact transfer" is worth 25 points of a maximum 120 allocated to teams each fixture, equivalent to another category for those who have played between five and 24 NRL or English Super League matches.

Walsh, if he switches to the Hawks, would carry 25 points. Brayden Musgrove, who recently signed at Cessnock from the Knights, will likely cost zero points because being a Goannas junior trumps his seven NRL appearances in 2021.

Hawks coach Brad Tighe has described the new points system as a "challenge" and "juggle" amid assembling his Port Stephens-based roster.

Cessnock captain-coach Harry Siejka says "I'm not overly sold on it. Limits players opportunities for first grade unless they change competitions. I think it's a big call to put a player transfer in the same comp on 25 points, the same as an NRL or Super League player. With the salary cap as well, makes it hard to acquire and keep quality players".

Wyong captain-coach Mitch Williams feels the overall allocation should increase close to 200 points "given the level of footy and the players in this comp. I know they are looking at ways to equalise talent, I just think with the impact transfers ... it might not work as hoped".

Maitland mentor Matt Lantry reckons it's "not as simple as the previous system" with "32 different sections ... just to see where a player slots", but adds "like the fact it rewards loyalty and junior development".

Macquarie coach Matt Roach says "there's a always a period of understanding it" and "we will be able to adapt".

Kiah Cooper, Timanu Alexander and Floyd Tighe have also been linked to the Hawks, but not yet confirmed.

Lakes have announced the signing of former NRL player Dylan Phythian following a 2022 stint at the Knights in NSW Cup.

Meanwhile, NSWRL officials are looking to release next year's draw before Christmas but uncertainty surrounds whether or not the number of rounds will remain at 18.

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