The Wests Tigers remain under intense salary cap pressure, with the practice of ‘back-loading’ by clubs now outlawed by the NRL – ultimately putting the Tigers in a tough situation for the 2009 season.
When clubs fly close to the wind in terms of salary cap limits, it has been common for clubs to ask players to receive part of their payments in later years. This situation was similar to what happened after the Bulldogs cap scandal several years ago, with players taking delayed payments or cuts to keep the club together.
Tigers CEO Scott Longmuir admitted Wests were in a problematic situation, with the NRL’s sudden change of the back-loading rules. Hence the reason for the club desperately trying to offload utility Liam Fulton.
As early as last April, Wests realised they were facing big problems in terms of the salary cap. Fearing fines or more serious penalities, Wests Tigers officials asked a handful of players to take delayed payments – basically deferring their problem, giving them more time to clean up the mess.
However, recently – the NRL has changed the rules, confirming that only when players extend their current deals can they opt to have backloading components added to their contracts.
Wests were believed to have set this up with the extensions of both Bryce Gibbs and Keith Galloway late last year, but are still over the cap as it sits under the current rules.
Longmuir has confirmed the situation surrounding Fulton is not yet sorted out, however UK Super League side Huddersfield who already have several ex-Tigers players on the books are believed to be interested in Fulton as a replacement for banned half Todd Carney.