If You Want The Best In The World, You Have To Pay Them What They Are Worth

Its a little ironic that a sport founded on the basis of an open market for players and compensating players for the time and effort they put into the game not finds itself in a position where it tightly regulates what players are worth and shouts down any attempts for a player to earn as much money as they possibly can.

Right now in the National Rugby League there is a very simple problem.

The competition boasts athletes that other sports want. On pure athletic ability, Rugby League players are making waves in sports that bare little to no resemblance to Rugby League at all. The days when Rugby League was the best kept secret in sports is over, and now, other sports like what they see and are willing to spend a lot of money to try and gain some of the glitz and glamor that Rugby League stars bring to our game.

The NRL knows it now competes on a world stage for the services of its own athletes, and yet, they are doing very little to compete in the open market the game once embraced.

It is now at a point where players born and raised on Rugby League, who want to continue playing the game they love, are considering walking away to play a sport they have never played at any level just because the money on offer is more than twice they earn in the NRL.

That should never, ever be the case. We should not be asking our best players to have to take a pay cut to play the game they love.

No one should be surprised when the likes of Greg Inglis, Billy Slater, Jamal Idris and the like get massive offers from other sports. Look at what they do every week on the Rugby League field.

The NRL will tell you that they are trying to run a competition that is finally living within its means. Even the club under the most financial pressure right now, the Cronulla Sharks, are not in danger of folding, even if they do survive on a shoestring budget!

What the NRL doesn’t understand is that, you can not invest years in developing a player, building them up to be a world class talent, spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on contracts up to the point where they reach the peak of their powers, and then let your investment walk out the door.

Its madness.

The NRL can’t get through its thick head that the competition overall loses value when it loses valuable assets to other sports.

Now, one of Rugby Leagues great qualities is the fact that it produces so many good players, that as soon as a good player leaves, they are replaced by another good player. The problem is, that player that comes through is also being targeted by other sports, it has now become a cycle and the NRL is finding itself developing talent for English Super League, English Rugby Union, French Rugby Union, Japanese Rugby Union, AFL….and that is not even mentioning the 16 NRL clubs, the NSW and QLD Cup competitions as well as the French Rugby League, United State Rugby League and so on.

There is no other sport in the world that feels that type of pressure from so many hands trying to steal from one cookie jar!

If the NRL really wants to boast it runs a world class competition, it needs to start paying players for their world class performances. It has lost hundreds of players already to other competitions over the last decade, and a handful of high quality players, but that list of valuable high quality players will only grow if the NRL doesn’t do something about player salaries and making sure the games best players are retained.

Every time a player is forced to chose between playing in the NRL, or another competition, the NRL loses value. Just on the consideration of the move, even if the player stays, the damage is done.

The NRL just doesn’t seem to understand that.

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