Beni Marshall Asks For Release To Play Rugby Union As Our Stars Get Short Changed

The Daily Telegraph in Sydney is reporting that Benji Marshall will ask for an immediate release from his contract with the Wests Tigers to take up a deal to play Rugby Union in Japan. This was always going to happen in the wake of the move by the Sydney Roosters to sign Sonny Bill Williams who is currently under contract to a Rugby Union club in Japan.

In Marshall’s case, he is under contract with an NRL club and in the past was blocked by the NRL from signing a short term deal to play Japanese Rugby Union before extending his contract in 2009. By asking for a release, Marshall would be able to make over $1 million dollars for a brief stint before, most likely, returning to the NRL. Having said that, if he is off contract, he is free game. He could end up anywhere. If he wants to go to the highest bidder, he will end up playing Rugby Union in France.

That is what this all comes down to…money. I think Marshall, along with every other top line player in the NRL, has a very good reason for looking to persue big money overseas.

The NRL recently signed a broadcasting deal that no other “rugby” competition in the world could even dream of signing. On the back of that the NRL salary cap hardly went up at all.

Reports suggested that broadcasters in New Zealand put it to the NRL that the addition of Sonny Bill Williams to the NRL in 2013 would add an extra $1 million to the value of the broadcasting rights the game recieves from New Zealand. If star players can add that much value to the competition, surely they should be compensated for their ability to draw funds into the game.

No doubt some people will drag out the old “The game is bigger than any one player” line, and that is true in many ways. The problem is, we don’t live in a world where these ideals hold any real currency. The loss of a player like Benji Marshall can no doubt be broken down into a financial figure in the exact same way that the addition of Sonny Bill Williams has been. When you are on $600,000 to play a gruelling NRL season, and you are offered $1,000,000 to play park football in Japan, you’d be crazy not to take that money on offer.

The National Rugby League hit the jackpot when it signed a contract that would see the game earn $250,000,000 every single year for the next four years. That isn’t even including internet or radio rights. It doesn’t include merchandise sales or various sponsorships at NRL and club level. That being the case, why are we in a position where our star players, the very best players in the world, can STILL earn more money playing park football in Japan?

This needs to be addressed.

Like most issues the game is facing, the salary cap for the 2013 season has yet to be set in stone. On top of that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NRL and the Players Assciation has yet to be concluded.

With a billion dollar television contract in its back pocket there is no way in the world the NRL should be losing any talent it wants to hold onto. In fact, if anything the NRL and its clubs should be able to sign players from anywhere in the world it feels would add value to the competition.

I can’t see why Marshall would not be granted a release. If he isn’t and he really wants to head to where the money is, he can simply walk out on his contract and earn big money playing Rugby Union. He will then be able to return to the NRL at his leasure…just as Sonny Bill Williams did…

I can’t blame the players. I can’t blame the player managers. I look at this situation and to be it is the symptom of a lack of leadership within the game.

Personally, I think the players should consider strike action. The game is earning twce as much under its new broadcasting deal. That the NRL salary cap will only be raised by a fraction is a slap in the face to the Players Assiociation. They should simply walk out and not train untill the Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed off on and with that, they should demand a dramatic, unrestricted rise in the NRL salary cap.

No doubt clubs will cry poor, they always do. However the money is there. There is no excuse for our best players to be short changed any more.

Update: Both the Wests Tigers and Benji Marshall’s manager have denied that Marshall will seek an early release from his contract.

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2 thoughts on “Beni Marshall Asks For Release To Play Rugby Union As Our Stars Get Short Changed

  1. There are so many things that are not getting done right now….this is one of many things the people at the top need to sort out in our game.

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