3 days ago
Wests Tigers skipper Brett Hodgson says the NRL salary cap left him with no option but to join the flow of NRL stars to the English Super League.
Hodgson became the second NRL star in two days to announce he was heading to the UK - to link with Huddersfield - after Parramatta's Mark Riddell said on Wednesday he'd been granted a release from the final year of his contract to join Wigan.
"I don't think there was really an option here at the club in terms of the salary cap, it's pretty tight and throughout the NRL," Hodgson said at the launch of the Cancer Council's Call to Arms men's health awareness campaign on Thursday.
"We approached other NRL clubs but at this stage there's not a lot going around.
"There's a ton of quality fullbacks in the competition as well so not a lot of sides are throwing their hands up for an older fullback."
Hodgson joins Scott Prince, Anthony Laffranchi, John Skandalis, Pat Richards, Daniel Fitzhenry, Paul Whatuira and Ben Galea as members of the Tigers' 2005 fairytale premiership-winning side to have exited the club, causing coach Tim Sheens to resume his long argument with the league about cap concessions.
"They give you one at the moment but it's 10 years, that's pretty hard," Sheens said.
"It's hard to play 10 years, let alone survive that long in one club.
"But I think juniors, particularly genuine juniors who have come through the system, there should be some concession.
"Clubs that don't produce as many juniors as say Wests Tigers do would probably whinge and say that that's not fair on them, and that's the problem that I think the league is faced with."
With NSW skipper Danny Buderus in his last season in the NRL before joining Leeds and St George Illawarra superstar Mark Gasnier considering a switch to rugby union in France, outspoken Blues forward Willie Mason called on payments for representative players to be increased.
"I think something has got to be done," Mason said.
"If we do lose Gaz that would be an absolute shame to rugby league.
"He is one of the greats I think already and we just need to get it sorted, do something."
But Mason, who said he knew what Gasnier's decision would be, also hinted the Test centre could be staying put.
"It's not that big a drama, he just needs to sort some things out with his club and then it will be fine," Mason said.
Meanwhile, cap constraints at the Sydney Roosters have resulted in Canberra prop David Shillington to a four-year deal from next season.
Shillington, 24, was a priority signing for the Raiders following the departure of Michael Weyman to St George Illawarra.
"The Raiders are a young side on the up, and after talking with (ex-Roosters) Nigel Plum and Joel Monaghan it looks like they have a strong future," Shillington said.
The Raiders' impressive recruitment drive also includes Penrith lock Nathan Smith and Tigers hooker Stuart Flanagan, while former Test five-eighth Trent Barrett remains in their sights once his request for a release from Wigan is confirmed.