Save our stars BRAD WALTER
May 4, 2010
WESTS TIGERS playmaker Benji Marshall has issued a plea on the eve of today’s meeting of chief executives for the club bosses to find ways to keep the game’s stars in the NRL.
Marshall’s comments came as NRL chief executive David Gallop announced a review of the salary cap and invited input from past and present coaches and administrators, as well as players through the Rugby League Players Association.
Gallop said the review would be headed by the committee appointed to negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement with the RLPA. The committee comprises Sydney Roosters chief executive Steve Noyce, South Sydney’s Shane Richardson, Brisbane’s Bruno Cullen, Newcastle’s Steve Burraston and Canberra’s Don Furner. Burraston and Furner were added yesterday.
‘‘This gives a cross-section of the clubs’ input,’’ Gallop said. ''We would like to receive submissions from inside and outside of the game, including past and present coaches and administrators and, of course, the players through the collective bargaining agreement.
'‘Intrinsically this is linked through the players’ share of profits going forward and that is why it makes sense to collectively look at these issues. At the centre of it is money and how the game’s finances are distributed. The salary cap is designed to ensure the financial viability of the clubs.
‘‘A lot of people have strong views and it is important those ideas are tested at the coal face to see whether they stand up to the realities that face the game.’’
Marshall, who will captain New Zealand in Friday night’s Test against Australia at the new AAMI Park in Melbourne, admitted he did not have a solution but said the NRL could not afford to lose Brisbane’s Israel Folau or any of the Storm stars who could be forced out of the club by the salary cap scandal.
‘‘We can’t keep going on the way we are,’’ Marshall told the Herald. ''We have already lost Sonny Bill Williams and Mark Gasnier; we can’t afford to lose a guy like Israel Folau. Rugby league prides itself on its players and especially the big stars. The kids love the stars and you can’t afford to keep losing them.
‘‘I had an opportunity to go to rugby union for more money and it is tempting, but at the end of the day I saw a long-term future for myself in this game. If it was about money, I would have been gone long ago. But this game is harder than it has ever been; there is not a game where I don’t come off the field feeling gone.’’
Marshall, who recently extended his contract with the Tigers for five years, suggested clubs receive more rewards under the salary cap to develop and retain players.
‘‘Melbourne has raised all of these players through their ranks - the Greg Inglises and Cameron Smiths, they’ve been there the whole time - so you would think that has got to count for something … I started at the Tigers and this is my eighth year at the Tigers so surely that has to count for something but it doesn’t.’’
He also called for an increase in the minimum wage for NRL players: ‘‘You can’t expect guys to play full-time for $50,000 per year and hardly be able to afford to live.’’
There’s got to be loyalty concessions. It is unfair to clubs to lose talent they have developed since junior ranks. This should only apply to players who are still playing at the club they played juniors for though. I reckon the following;
- 10% after 5 seasons
- 25% after 7 seasons
- 50% after 10 seasons
If you don’t retain your juniors, and they leave for another club, then this rule is not applicable. It would be nice to see one club players again, its sad that its such a celebration these days because its so rare.