How to stop NRL players leaving the game

Stop NRL player transfers bring in a feeIt’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.

3 thoughts on “How to stop NRL players leaving the game”

  1. Transfer fees are an interesting idea if the goal is to promote the game and keep the juniors coming through but I don’t agree they should be set at a level that is unrealistically high and only designed to stop players from gaining all the financial rewards on offer for their talents. Hate Qld is giving a fan’s point of view of what he believes is the most important part of the game – winning a premiership and representing your country. But even he concedes NRL is a business and the only loyalty that is part of the game now comes from the fans. You can’t expect a player to give loyalty to a club when the clubs don’t give it back. The Brett Kimmorleys and Brett Hodgsons of this world are given no options when their clubs decide it’s time for them to go even though they are still playing better and giving more value to their clubs than a lot of the so-called “marquee” players at the top of the salary ladder. So by all means get something back to develop the talent that is still here so that the players that do leave can be replaced by more young, enthusiastic players who know that if they are talented, professional and play consistently up to their potential, they won’t be penalised by not being allowed to follow whatever opportunities present themselves. Yes it hurts fans to see their favourite players leave their team but it isn’t realistic to think that preventing them from doing so will add anything to the game. It only has the potential to make up and coming players think that if they do get to the top in NRL there is nowhere for them to go and perhaps encourage them to desert the ranks and explore their talents in different codes before they even get to first grade and provide the entertainment that keeps the fans of this fantastic game keep coming back year after year. After watching the game for over 40 years, I’m optimistic that there will always be more than one Mark Gasnier, Willie Mason, Sonny Bill Williams, etc. out there – there always has been.

  2. Money does buy you a premeirship, look at soccer in the U.K , this is why the salary cap works so well and i am glad we have it, as for your idea about the transfer fee, great , get it into the game as soon as possible, we need to make some money out of union bleeding all our good backs to make their game look better.

  3. To both of you I never said to get rid of the salary cap,with a transfer fee in place ,it will help slow the the player exodus , by all means keep the cap , but with a transfer fee it could be increased.i also mentioned the juniors coming through,and there will always be some one who will be a star.
    Yep money does buy a premership in the UK soccer,but how boring with the same teams always on top.
    Those fees are just a guide line .I am also aware that the players like Kimmorley and Hodgson and many others ,can not be kept at the club .

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