By STEVE MASCORD
RATHER than blaming the salary cap for the inequalities of this year’s NRL, maybe we should look at the sudden rise in the cap and the lack of foresight regarding the impact of that rise.
It’s easy to cheer for players staying where they are. It’s easy to cheer for them being paid more. It’s easy to cheer for a completely free market system and for players to come back from other codes.
Yet forcing players to leave their clubs is a key component of talent equalisation. Have a look at the impact Greg Inglis has had at South Sydney for evidence.
These days, the Greg Inglises are staying where they are. They are factoring in cap raises tied to the $1.025 billion television deal, as Benji Marshall did at Wests Tigers. Strong clubs are staying strong and weak clubs are fighting over fringe first graders.
It’s OK to say it’s only a co-incidence we had nine premiers in the first 15 years of the NRL and a co-incidence that gaps have arisen as the marquee player mechanism was loosened and the cap has has gone up.
But I would argue the weight of probability says these things are related. I would argue we would not have had nine premiers in 15 years without a salary cap and the television companies wouldn’t have given us all those zeroes if we had been playing a lopsided competition for the last decade and a half.
We have suburbs playing states and countries. We have one team that plays out of Suncorp Stadium and another that plays at Leichhardt Oval. How are we supposed to have any uncertainty of results without an artificial economy?
That economy has, and is about to, suffer from hyper inflation. The cap is expected to hit $7 million by 2017. Movement of elite players from club to club will become increasingly rare, Discord predicts.
You may argue that the weaker clubs are holding the strong ones back. But if it becomes survival of the fittest, how may teams are you willing to lose? Is a 12-team competition acceptable? Ten? Eight?
And do you care if clubs are centred on areas where there are rich people, rather than where there are fans? Money and players are not always in the places a league needs franchises for its overall health.
In the end, we will have to make a choice: do we want Israel Folau even if it means scorelines of 50-0 because the cap is so loose it will be blow off by a light breeze? I want uncertainty of results more than I want “star power”, sorry.
No, it’s not the salary cap that’s to blame. It’s the fact we have less of a salary cap that we have at any time in the last 15 years.
AS headquarters of rugby league zealotry, Discord is often contacted by fellow zealots with examples of heathen behaviour.
And so it was last week, when reader Steve Mitchell pointed out this article from the New Zealand Herald.
Old Jem Beedoo looks like a cheery fellow, doesn’t he?
But really, I had a lot of trouble raising much indignation over his column. In fact, it was quote funny – as I’m sure it was intended to be.
All jokes aside, we have to face up to the fact that some things in rugby league are tacky. The gambling and alcohol advertising, the shameless cross promotional exercises at big games, the Lowes’ ads, the old cross dressing Footy Show skits.
But would I be right in saying we are getting LESS tacky by the year? I would say we are. So thank you, Jem for raising this most pressing of issues.
OK comments time and yes, I finished a sentence in the last column with a preposition. My only excuse was this it was after 1am!