While player managers scramble to the media telling everyone that will listen that the NRL salary cap should be raised immediatley, it seems the NRL itself is holding off on any such move. There are two major reasons for this.
First of all, there are a number of clubs that could really use a jump in the NRL’s grant to clubs just to get back on their feet financially. If that grant is eaten up straight away by a salary cap rise, it will mean is takes some clubs longer to be in a healthy position as far as finances go. The second big reason is that the NRL and clubs don’t want to articifially inflate the player market. Top clubs do deserve a pay rise, but if you give 16 clubs and extra $1 to spend over the next few months, that won’t all just go to the games else. We will see some clubs offering big money to the wrong players and it will have the same effect that The Super League War did on players salaries.
So the NRL is taking a measured approch to salary cap rises.
When the salary cap rise comes, instead of a flat rise to the cap I would like to see greater discounts on players that are born, raised and play all of their football in a clubs immeditate junior development area.
One of the strengths of Rugby League is that it develops a number of great players. Most adminstrators, coaches, players and fans agree that there should be every insenitive given to clubs and players so that we see one club players more often. Some worry that certain clubs would be disadvantaged under such a system, but I like to look towards the positive of this idea.
If I clubs is developing a lot of great local juniors, something that is a good thing for the game, shouldn’t they be rewarded for that? Shouldn’t a team that develops a local junior be in a better position financially to keep that player than an opposition club that is looking to buy what they need off the shelf?
Millions of dollars are spent every year by clubs on junior development. Every club goes out and searches for the very best young talent they can find, and if they didn’t do this we wouldn’t end up with all the great players we see in the NRL every week. Some clubs develop youngsters better than others, and personally I’d like to see the clubs that develop the games best players rewarded for that hard work.
The likes of the New Zealand Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Penrith Panthers, North Queensland Cowboys and Canberra Raiders would be in the best position to take advantage of such a system. Most other teams wouldn’t be all that worse off though. Only the Sydney Roosters, who have no junior development league of their own what so ever would be at a major disadvantage, and personally I think thats just too bad for them.
If Sydney clubs feel like they would be too disadvantaged by such a system I have a very simple solution. Give every Sydney based club an area of country New South Wales to control as their own junior development area. This would help Rugby League in country area’s and mean that Sydney based clubs could draw on areas greater than their traditional junior league zones while teams like Canberra and Newcastle would have more definded areas they couldn concentrate on. Similar programs could be set up in Queensland qith Queensland based teams while a team like the Melbourne Storm would obviously have all of Victoria to themselves.
Under this sort of system in which teams get an insentive under the salary cap to develop players, a team like the New Zealand Warriors would easily be the big winners. They have a country all of their own to develop players from and quite honestly, I have no problems with that. It may actually change the mind set of the Australian Rugby League Commission a bit and not just look at the business side of Rugby League but also the footballing side. If New Zealand is producing so much talent that it is almost unfair that the Warriors have such a monopoly over it, why not give them a bit of competition and add another team in New Zealand?
The goal to all of this is that clubs develop players of their own and hold into the best of these players for longer. If a player was developed by a club from a youngster, plays right through their junior teams, breaks into first grade and plays ten years of first grade for a club, they shouldn’t count towards a teams salary cap at all.
Would you have any problems if Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt didn’t count towards the Eels salary cap this year? I know I wouldn’t. If a club finds a great player and manages to hold onto them for so long, good luck to them.
If the NRL is smart and links on field success to a successful junior development system, the big winner will be the game of Rugby League.
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
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