The National Rugby League has released details about the long overdue salary cap overhaul that will bring the salary cap rules up to speed with the current pressures that clubs and players all face today.
A lot of the changes that are being made are really just to clear up some grey areas of the game and improve on what was already there. Changes such as standardizing transfer fee’s between clubs, termination payments not counting against the cap, improvements to the system that gives discounts for long serving players…small things that will improve the salary cap rules.
The biggest change however is that now the NRL itself has the ability to negotiate directly with players who are not playing in the NRL, sign them up to a contract, then place them with a team…all of which will happen to a certain extent outside of the salary cap.
So basically the NRL could start negotiations with Israel Folau to bring him back to the NRL. They could offer him what ever they liked, pay him $1.5 million a year if they wanted. Where he ends up will obviously be part of the negotiations, but the NRL under the cap rules would have every right to select a team for him to join.
For the right money, players will go anywhere to play. Hell, Israel Folau is the best proof of that! If the NRL makes it part of the negotiation process that they will pay big money to players outside of the NRL to join the NRL on the condition that the NRL chooses the club, it will be interesting to see how they choose those clubs they will be improving.
For instance, a player like Folau is a huge signing. A lot of media interest would be generated, which is what the NRL wants. To then place Folau at say the New Zealand Warriors or North Queensland Cowboys wouldn’t make a huge amount of sense. You’d be taking him away from the biggest media spotlight. You would ideally want Folau to be playing for a club where he would have the biggest impact on the competition as a whole.
Keep in mind, the NRL is now a very big business. Like any business it will be guided by what will make it the most money.
If the NRL decided to place Israel Folau at the Brisbane Broncos or Canterbury Bulldogs, I wonder how opposition fans would feel about that.
Going further, does the NRL look to recruit players from outside of the competition in an effort to help struggling clubs? Say the NRL bought Israel Folau and placed him at the Cronulla Sharks for instance, would it be right that a poorly run club that have dug a very big hole for itself got rewarded with a player like this?
I also question how they will be fair about where players end up. How does a team like the Canberra Raiders, who rarely get Free To Air TV games, who produce so many great juniors, and who are consistently a mid table team, get that extra push to have someone parachuted into their squad on a massive deal over other clubs?
As a Rugby League supporter, I love this idea. I want the worlds best “Rugby” players all playing in the NRL. I want this to be a league full of superstars. I want the NRL to be THE destination for top players in either code.
I’ve enjoyed watching Sonny Bill Williams return to the game. I think its a crying shame Israel Folau isn’t in a Parramatta Eels jersey right now. I would be more than happy to see other clubs outside of my own (The Penrith Panthers) have star players dropped into their side so I can watch these stars on a weekly basis.
I just question how most other supporters will handle these moves being made. I also question how you can make it fair on every team in the competition.
Above all else I want to see one thing happen…
I want the best players born and raised in Rugby League, who came through the junior development systems of clubs and became out home grown superstars, to be our highest paid players in the NRL.
The likes of Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Daly Cherry-Evans and the like should be the top paid players in the sport. I would hate to see a situation like the AFL had a couple of years ago where two of the highest three paid players in their game were Israel Folau and Karmichael Hunt.
It is interesting to see these changes will now become law. There are some really interesting times ahead. While this is a little uneasy for some Rugby League fans to watch, keep this in mind…
Every single “Rugby” competition in the world will HATE hearing this news. None of them can compete financially with the NRL if the NRL is really aggressive with the way it spends money. The ARU in particular will be horrified at the thought that any time they produce a headliner the NRL can simply but them and place them with one of their own clubs.
The next few years are going to be very interesting indeed…
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com