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The Sydney Roosters chairman, Nick Politis, has openly stated he would like to see the salary cap raised to $4 million so the Roosters can continue to buy premierships at will. This was not said for the greater good of the game or any other noble cause. It was solely due to the Roosters lack of junior development and their continual poaching of other teams talent.
This season alone we have seen the Roosters do it twice. The first involved Willie Bishop. He was courted at the World Sevens in January and signed away from the Warriors. The second incident was the Mal Kafusi saga. Kafusi was deported from Australia and had been playing for Manly but again, was signed away from Manly by the Roosters and is now playing in the Premier League with Eric Grothe jnr.
There have also been rumours of the Roosters targeting Rhys Wesser as Wesser is going to test himself on the open market come July 1. As it stands now, Politis has admitted it is difficult to keep a team of superstars under the cap but it seems he does not understand the very notion of how the salary cap works. Its sole purpose is to evenly distribute the talent among the fifteen clubs, not just the elite three or four. Also, is this an indirect admission that the Roosters are over the salary cap? You be the judge of that one.
If the salary cap was raised to $4 million, you could bet your bottom dollar the Roosters would continue to horde players from rival clubs and have a virtual first grade side playing Premier League.
As it stands now, raising the cap would be a disaster for the NRL's poorer clubs. They would be left behind because any decent player could then leave and play for one of the big clubs. It would be similar to the English Premier League where clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal finish in the top two every year. Both clubs buy any player they want with the open chequebook policy and it seems the Roosters think this policy would be a good thing for Rugby League.
There are ways around the raising of the salary cap. The first is to reduce the time for long serving players so a club can gain cap relief. As it stands, a player must be at a club for ten years before they get a partial exemption from the salary cap. This could be reduced to seven years, which would reward clubs for developing and keeping long serving players.
The NRL could also move to measure the time in games and not years. If a young player plays at a successful club and stays relatively injury free, he would reach the 150 game milestone in seven years or slightly under.
We are led to believe that every club is spending the same amount of money on players but if you look at the Wests Tigers playing roster compared to that of the Roosters, the squads are worlds apart in terms of talent.
The Roosters will face the possibility of having eight players playing Origin this year and that leads to a higher wage bill for the poor old Roosters. Tough luck. I don't think I heard Politis being as vocal when Canberra and Brisbane supplied the majority of the Origin squads ten years ago. He had nothing to worry about because the Roosters were languishing at the wrong end of the table until they bought Fittler and attempted to buy Daley, Stuart and Clyde from the Raiders which proved to be a catalyst for the Super League war. It seems Politis sudden heartfelt pleas are nothing but self-serving, selfish, vested interests in his club and not the game.
I think it's high time the Roosters tasted their own medicine and see how it feels to have your side decimated by rival clubs ready to pounce on your star players because for you have to play within the rules.
Both Parramtta and St George have suffered greatly from the number of players they have had to shed over the last few seasons so why should the Roosters be any different? Sure, they have the connections to make it work but for the good of the game? I don't think so.
A quick study of the Roosters players and where they came from shows Politis needs a salary cap increase to stay competetive. Imagine if the Roosters had to rely more on their junior development? It would be a lot longer than 28 years before they won their next title.
Fittler - Panthers Fitzgibbon - Illawarra Cayless - Parramatta Robinson - Parramatta Wing - Souths Finch - Raiders Payten - Raiders Morley - Leeds Hodges - Broncos
Imagine the Roosters without these imports? We are talking about more than half their first grade squad.
A small increase in the salary cap to $3.5 million and a reduction of the ten-year rule to seven years would be the fairest and most equitable way to spread the talent evenly across the 15 clubs. The NRL could also look at raising the amount a player can earn from external sponsorship opportunities.
Personally, I don't want to see the NRL go the way of the Premier League. There has to be some reward for loyalty and junior development. The question is, do the NRL have the intestinal fortitude to make the hard decisions in favour of all clubs, not just the ones with connections in the right places?