Meanwhile the PNG Hunters have booked a place on #NRLGF day after a last-gasp win over the Sunshine ...
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With the onset of the NRL's pending TV Rights deal expected to hit somewhere around the $1 billion mark by seasons end, clubs and players have seen fit to start paying ludicrously high sums of money for some players.
But these high wages have come at cost, moreso than financially. Most of these players have turned out to be either struck down by injury, horribly out of form or just plain useless and lazy. It has also meant that other players previously at the club, either fringe first graders or promising juniors, have had to be released to accommodate one player.
While commentators will give their varying excuses for these marquee signings, as they are commonly referred to nowadays, to justify their abysmal performances, fact is that they are paid excessively and appear to be rocking up and doing as little as possible to prevent them from feeling guilty about ripping hundreds of thousands of dollars from their club every year.
Due to the high wages some of these players are paid, it's almost impossible for a coach to drop them, because it would be an admission that he made the wrong decision, a decision the club is stuck with.
On the weekend we actually saw Parramatta coach Stephen kearney send his highly paid halfback Chris Sandow to NSW Cup to help him regain some form. Sandow hasn't been playing too badly for Parramatta, although he has been below his best this year. He has been criticised by former Eel's half legend Peter Sterling for being overweight and unfit.
Another big signing that has underperformed since joining his new club is Adam Blair. Some people have said that he hasn't adjusted to the Tigers style of play.
I say rubbish.
Since when does 'not understanding a style of play' prevent you from making tackles properly, and doing hit-ups? Blair has been woefully out of form and looking completely uninterested in playing.
Then there are the unfortunate incidents regarding marquee players being constantly injured. These unfortunately can't be helped, but maybe its time that salary cap concessions are made to NRL Clubs whose marquee players miss lengthy periods of time due to injury. Now is the perfect time to figure out a concept along these lines before the big salaries start rolling in next season.
With player salaries expected to boom next year, clubs should possibly consider looking at incentive and/or performance based contracts with future high priced signings to ensure the game doesn't suffer as a consequence.
Otherwise, performances by these overpaid players could become regular and our game's standard could drop dramatically as a consequence.
Worse still, it could see loyalty killed off and the focus on grassroots and juniors footy be completely lost by clubs outbidding each other for one player in a vein hope they will bring them premiership glory.
What has happened to the people's game?