Poms warn NRL: hands off our stars!

Rugby League Week - - News - PHIL WILKINSON


new chief has fired a shot across the NRL’s bow, warn­ing he’ll take dras­tic mea­sures to stop Eng­land’s best play­ers mov­ing Down Un­der.

And ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Roger Draper re­veals he’s work­ing on plans to lure more of the game’s su­per­stars to the Old Dart.

The salary cap lim­its in English rugby union ($11.3m) and the NRL ($7m) dwarf the $3m wage ceil­ing in Super League.

But Draper, who ran the Lawn Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion, says he’s al­ready met with club bosses and hopes to have de­tails of cash in­cen­tives in place ahead of next sea­son.

“We want the best play­ers play­ing in Super League,” he says. “In ten­nis, if I’ve not got Fed­erer, Nadal and Mur­ray play­ing, I won’t sell tick­ets and spon­sor­ship.

“We kick-started the de­bate with the own­ers last Fri­day, and there’s no one magic pill, we’ve got to look at dif­fer­ent op­tions ... [but] we want the clubs to have the best tal­ent.

“Whether it’s the salary cap, mar­quee play­ers, cen­tral con­tracts — we need [play­ers like Wi­gan fiveeighth] Ge­orge Wil­liams [pic­tured] play­ing in Super League, not Pre­mier­ship rugby or NRL.

“Pro­fes­sional sport is a short ca­reer and you do fol­low the money — if we're pay­ing £150,000 and a player is be­ing of­fered £500,000, it doesn’t mat­ter how pas­sion­ate he is about the club and com­pe­ti­tion.

“We plan to con­sol­i­date this year, en­thuse the fans we have and grow out­wards... and in­tro­duce a lot of these [changes] from 2018 with a five-year plan.”

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