I am a big supporter of the salary cap because quite simply, when the salary cap is working, every supporter can go into any given season knowing their team could be winning the Grand Final in 8 months time.
The salary cap has two basic functions in Rugby League.
The first function is to limit the spending clubs do. Basically to stop clubs spending themselves to death.
The second function is to try and equalize talent across the competition so that certain clubs can hoard talent and poorly performing clubs (in theory) can basically take from talent right clubs and make themselves better.
Its a great system when it works.
We’ve seen in the last decade that it becomes pretty clear when a team breaks the NRL salary cap. The Bulldogs did it in 2002, and they only had a record breaking season that year. The Melbourne Storm did it over a few season, in which they become one of the most successful teams in the modern era.
These two examples show that basically, the salary cap is being stuck to by most clubs.
So here is my issue in regards to the whole Greg Inglis saga.
Inglis is currently contracted to the Melbourne Storm. With Inglis on their books, they are way over the 2011 salary cap. By moving on, Inglis is doing them a huge favour, after all, he is contracted to the club for a few more years, he is under no obligation to leave the club and hey, he is entitled to every cent of money on that contract if he decided to fly down to Melbourne tomorrow and tell them his is staying.
Basically, he is a massive problem for the Melbourne Storm and they want him to be off their books as soon as possible.
So Inglis is leaving. He is moving from a team with a lot of talent, a winning side, to a team that doesn’t have as much talent, and who didn’t even make the NRL finals last season.
Seems like the salary cap at work to me!
In fact, the two teams Inglis has been linked too, the Brisbane Broncos, and then South Sydney Rabbitohs, both missed last years finals series. A third team, the Parramatta Eels, also missed the finals.
Greg Inglis’ move should be held up as the ultimate triumph of the salary cap doing its job.
Instead, it seems like it is being used as some kind of witch hunt, and I can’t seem to work out why.
The Daily Telegraph in Sydney has been vicious in its reporting of Inglis’ move to South Sydney.
The Daily Telegraph is owned by New Limited. The Melbourne Storm is also owned by New Limited. Inglis was going to play for the Brisbane Broncos but backed out of a handshake deal. The Brisbane Broncos biggest shareholder?
I’m just mentioning that as a matter of full disclosure by the way.
The Telegraph has been on the “This deal wont be allowed to happen” bandwagon every since Inglis decided he wanted to play for South Sydney instead of the Broncos. It got to the point where they have wrongly reported the deal has been ruled as invalid by the NRL, forcing them to print a retraction.
This week they had some of their writers run down Inglis for turning his back on the Broncos after having a “handshake deal” with the club to play for them. I found this very hypocritical from an organization that induced The Super League War where not only players, but entire clubs were told not to worry about their current contracts, that News Limited lawyers would sort them out!
Whether you agree with what Greg Inglis has done or not, the fact is, its a top player moving from a top club to a club that didn’t make last years finals series. On face value, it looks exactly like what we want the salary cap to do.
One final point I want to make.
There is a lot of talk that the NRL isn’t comfortable with this move and that they are working very hard to work out of this contract is legal under the salary cap.
The whole idea of a salary cap, a cap on talent that uses hard figures from player contracts, is that it should a completely emotionless beast.
There should be no room for interpretation, for emotion or even for perceived rights or wrongs to come into it. There shouldn’t be decisions that need to be made, a team is either over the cap, or they are not.
If we have come to a point where by a top player from a top club is told he can’t move to a lower table club, that his deal doesn’t look right and that sponsors who have flocked to him can not become involved in the game….what the hell is wrong with the salary cap!
Greg Inglis’ move is the ultimate vision of what the NRL’s salary cap is meant to do. Lets all hope, for the good of the game, that the NRL signs off on it soon as we can all look forward to the 2011 season where all of our teams have a shot of winning the Grand Final.