For well over a decade the National Rugby League ran on a strict budget. It was a competition that was under funded due to a terrible broadcasting deal that was put together while the game was negotiating from a position of weakness.
In 2014 things are very different. The National Rugby League is a competition in an extremely strong financial position that has allowed clubs and players to get the funding they have deserved for a very long time.
The NRL should never again lose a player it really wants to hold onto. The days of being helpless as players left for other codes on three times as much money should be over.
That brings us to Israel Folau…
Israel Folau wants to come back to Rugby League. He wants to play in the NRL, he wants to play for Queensland at State Of Origin level, and he wants to return to being an Australian Rugby League test player.
Israel Folau grew up playing Rugby League. He loves the sport. When he went to play AFL on a huge contract…he didn’t really want to go! The money was simply too good to refuse. W
When Folau left the AFL a year early he wanted to return to play in the NRL with the Parramatta Eels. Folau was ready to take a fraction of the money he was on in AFL to be back playing Rugby League. The Eels got a deal in place, they sent it to the NRL…and due to the games administration dragging its feet and making it as difficult as possible for him to return to the game they lose Folau all over again.
Now Folau is playing Rugby Union, and like pretty much every decent Rugby League player that heads to Union, he is killing it! He is the biggest draw-card in Australian Rugby Union. He is their best player by a long, long way.
NRL CEO David Smith needs to ask himself how long he will allow one of Rugby League best asset’s to be used by the ARU to promote another sport. How long will Rugby League sit back and watch Israel Folau promote Rugby Union all while he desperately wants to return to Rugby League.
All the NRL needs to do is make the effort. Sit down, do the sums and make a commitment to bring Israel Folau back to Rugby League.
I don’t particularly care who he plays for. I don’t care about how he is fit into a teams salary cap. I just want to see one of the best Rugby League players in the world back playing the game he loves.
It wasn’t all that many years ago that Rugby League aggressively pursued the best players in the world and brought them on board. That all changed when the game found itself under funded after the Super League War.
In 2014 the NRL no longer needs to be a passive observer in the player market. In a game driven by home grown stars the National Rugby League should make sure one of our biggest stars of all is playing the game he belongs in.
Forget the Rugby Union World Cup. Not winning that competition won’t match up against returning to the NRL on big money and playing State Of Origin footy. For the right price we could be watching Israel Folau playing in the NRL next season.
Over to you David Smith…