It’s a huge topic at the moment in the NRL and our newest contributor HateQLD discusses options as we watch the mass exodus of our high profile players to the cashed up UK Super League clubs and Rugby Union sides from around the world
Rugby League has always found it hard to compete with lure of big dollars overseas, but the aftermath of the Super League v ARL war probably made things worse as the peace deal sucked clubs, money and fans from the game.
While the NRL is blssed in terms of juniors and has plenty of talent coming through the ranks, the scary prospect is that we are losing players in their prime. Previously we saw NRL players at the end of their career finishing in the UK – the standard of playing was slightly lower and it was an acceptable way for a player to bow out and earn some decent money before he put the cue in the rack.
Mark Gasnier is the latest big name NRL player to leave the fold and secure his financial future, can you blame Gasnier? Would you knock back a million dollars, probably not? Gasnier declared his love for the St George Illawarra Dragons and spoke of his link with the Dragons since a young age.
Is he really being disloyal? Is it a case of greed? The media has certainly put pressure on Gasnier, Doubst and the Dragons club. Insinuating that by taking the money offered to him , Gasnier has he let his fans, club and team mates down.
The NRL and the individual clubs do not have the money and resources to keep players in the local game. Crowds aren’t great, state taxes are really hampering the Leagues Clubs who have previously been the ‘stop-gap’ saviour for clubs and talk has suggested there may be a few Sydney clubs on death row.
What about implementing a transfer fee for players leaving the NRL? Similar to European Soccer, if a player is poached by another club, or another competition in another country – the poaching club is legally bound to pay a ‘trasnfer fee’ to club releasing the sought after player. In the Mark Gasnier instance, the French Rugby Union or club would need to pay a ‘set’ fee to the St George Illawarra Dragons or perhaps the NRL to off-set the drain of talent from club or competition.
An established fee could be in place for different levels of players.
- A Test Match level player worth around $500,000 a year might command a $250,000 transfer fee to the club who is losing that player.
- A State of Origin player might command a fee of $300,000 a year in the NRL, could gain a transfer fee of $150,000 for his club.
- An NRL first grader could be worth $175,000 a year and if he leaves a minimum fee could be applied for the transfer.
The transfer fee can help the NRL or the club ‘replenish’ the game with juniors or off-set any immediate impact to marketing or possibly allow the club a ‘fighting fund’ to poach an international player from the UK Super League, Euro Rugby Union or similar competing competition.
The transfer fee will also ‘ward off’ some attempts to sign a player – as poaching clubs and leagues will be hesitant to even deal with a hefy transfer fee unless they really want to gain a signature at any cost.
This will also help NRL clubs who have managed to keep loyal players for long periods of time. While the NRL provides salary cap concessions for long serving players such as Steven Menzies, Darren Lockyer, Danny Buderus, Hazem El Masri and others – a transfer fee awarded to the club when their star moves on internationally would be a handy reward for developing and looking after the player for a good decade or so.
The number one priority is to look after our local product to make sure that players would want to stay here at the one club and this doesn’t or cannot happen, the club and the NRL aren’t penalised.
Obviously the NRL is a business, along with a success comes greed .
It’s human nature that players or employees will chase the dollar 9 times out of 10, we cannot be harsh on someone for knocking back millions of dollars to ply their trade. That is democracy! But the implementation of a transfer fee could help stop the player drain, reduced disgruntled fans and keep bums on seats at games.
With so much money being offered at players, do you think it affects their intensity and performance on the field?
Once players sign on the dotted line, clubs and coaches need to ensure that pride in your jersey is now the most important part of the weekly job for the player. A player should strive to represent state and country.
If the right rules and systems, such as a transfer fee are put in place – the rewards will benefit those who stick by their club. It also allows players to achieve the ultimate dream, an NRL premiership with your team mates . A victory lap with the NRL trophy in hand, this is something no amount of money can buy and something many of the departing players will never get to taste, touch or feel.
Greed might line your pockets, but it might cost you your dreams. Money can not buy you a premiership , but loyalty and pride in your jersey might get you there. Mark Gasnier will have the money and full credit to him for his talent, drive and ability – but he may never live the dream of an NRL premiership victory lap.
The closest thing he may get to it – is looking at tapes of his famous uncle.