OPINION: Fans bound to be disappointed again
THE irony of the Daly Cherry-Evans backflip is that the club suffering the most - the Titans - is owned by the NRL, which is responsible for the ludicrous rule he has utilised.
And still, after a major change announced on Tuesday, the rule governing players signing with another club remains flawed.
While players may now have only a 10-day cooling-off period, rather than until round 13 as before, the angst among fans remains with players able to sign with another club at any time in the final 12 months of their existing contract.
After the DCE debacle - and he isn't the first to renege on a signed contract - the NRL had the golden opportunity to take a stand of strength and demonstrate just who is running the game. But it buckled at the knees by still giving players 12 months to, in essence, find a new house and - if applicable - a school for their kids.
That fans may be alienated again, as has been the case with DCE and others, doesn't seem to matter.
So for those feeling unhappy or disillusioned with the Cherry-Evans outcome, aim your anger at the NRL and not the player.
Rugby league at NRL level is not a game anymore.
It is a highly paid profession and players will do the best for themselves and their families.
And, as happens each weekend, if they play within the rules there are no penalties.
I feel for the Titans, and in particular Neil Henry and Graham Annesley, who are honest, decent people. Henry took on the coaching job at a club that has since gone into liquidation, been embroiled in a drugs scandal, lost captain Nate Myles and Aidan Sezer for next season, and has now seen DCE turn his back.
But while Cherry-Evans says he had every intention of honouring his Titans deal until the Sea Eagles came back with their lifetime $10 million offer at the death, surely the fact the club is teetering on the edge must have been an added influence.
No doubt DCE will lose face over this, but he will recover. And his standing among his peers won't change because a dozen of them have done exactly the same.
The Sea Eagles can't be blamed either.
They have nurtured the Queenslander from his National Youth Competition days, so why wouldn't they do all they could to keep him?
Their actions, too, were within the rules.
It's been messy, it's been drawn out and it's been a blight on the game. And, ironically, the only winner is Manly, which just happens to be the most unpopular club in the NRL.
But hopefully this ugliness has fired enough warning shots at the NRL for the powers that be to realise absurd decisions will mostly always result in absurd outcomes.