IF the ARL Commission was prepared to pay $1.5 million for AFL deputy Gillon McLachlan to become chief executive, how much are the game’s biggest stars worth?
Not just those playing in the NRL now, but others who could be enticed from rival codes.
A CEO doesn’t put bums on seats or inspire kids to play the game but Buddy Franklin playing for the Storm would – especially in Melbourne.
Imagine the interest next season if Penrith also signed Kurtley Beale, Wests Tigers lured Kieran Jack from Sydney Swans, the Warriors poached All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg and the Broncos snared Quade Cooper.
Sonny Bill Williams’s impending return to the NRL has sparked a season long campaign by the Bulldogs to host Sydney Roosters in the opening but the Kiwi superstar won’t receive an extra cent for helping to fill ANZ Stadium.
In AFL players with drawing power have a “marketing” component of their contract paid by the code’s governing body, while each club is allowed a salary cap exemption to sign one player from another sport.
It is why GWS’s Israel Folau and Tom Scully, Gold Coast Suns pair Karmichael Hunt and Gary Ablett and Carlton captain Chris Judd are all paid $1 million or more per season to play AFL.
While there has been criticism of Folau’s performances in his first season with GWS, the Herald reported last Saturday that three in every four numbered Giants jerseys sold have his No.4 on the back.
According to salary estimates contained in the same article, Folau earns $1.5 million, Scully is paid $1.8 million, Ablett receives $1.7 million and Hunt and Judd are on $1 million contracts.
Unfortunately, details of player contracts are not publicly listed as they are in US sports – a concept that shows kids what they can aspire to and reduces salary cap cheating – but there is no doubt that NRL stars are the poor cousins of Australia’s four football codes.
At a time when the A-League is trumpeting Sydney FC’s signing of Italian star Alessandro Del Piero on a two-year deal worth $4 millon, NRL headlines are focused on the race between Greg Inglis and Johnathan Thurston to become the code’s first $1 million player.
But surely after the ARLC’s new $1 billion broadcast deal, which is set to be topped up by a further $200 million from New Zealand television and online and mobile rights, the players should be earning more.
After all, those figures equate to $240 million per year – a virtual tripling of the previous $500 million, six-year deal which expires at the end of this season.
In comparison, the salary cap is set to rise from $4.3 million to $5 million next season and there is speculation it could then increase to $6 million in 2014 and up to $7.2 million by the end of the five-year broadcast deal.
That represents a 60 per cent increase, meaning the likes of Inglis and Thurston could expect to be earning little more than $1.1 million in 2017 if their current $700,000 per season contracts were to rise by the same percentage.
Yet at the same time, the ARLC is believed to have been prepared to more than double the salary of the game’s chief executive from David Gallop’s $700,000 per year contract to lure McLaughlin from the AFL.
Such a move would put the ARLC at odds with most major sporting competitions around the world such as the NFL, NBA and EPL, in which adminstrators earn far less than stars such as Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant and Fernando Torres.
Instead, the ARLC would be better served by encouraging clubs to raid the ranks of AFL and rugby union through a similar salary cap expemption that last month prompted West Coast Eagles to consider recruiting Australian Boomers star Mark Worthington.
Folau, Hunt, Setanta O’hAilpin (hurling), Lachlan Keeffe (football) and Mark Blicavs (athletics) were all recruited under the rule that allows clubs to sign athletes outside the salary cap if they have not played in any AFL-affiliated competition for more than three years.
Cashed up from the new broadcast deal, the ARLC could not only hit back at AFL but potentially decimate rugby union by introducing such as rule as the likes of Beale, Cooper, James O’Connor and Berrick Barnes all have league backgrounds and are known to be keen to play in the NRL.
A possible list of recruits from rival codes would be:
* Buddy Franklin (Storm): big, fast and athletic Hawthorn forward who has been compared to Jamal Idris.
* Quade Cooper (Broncos): Wallabies five-eighth with Benji Marshall-type skills.
* Israel Folau (Eels): former Storm and Broncos star who grew up alongside Jarryd Hayne.
* Kurtley Beale (Panthers): Wallablies fullback and former Souths junior raised in Penrith.
* Keiran Jack (Tigers): son of Balmain great Garry Jack and a league junior.
* Digby Ioane (Titans): Wallabies winger who came through the Melbourne Storm junior ranks before moving to Queensland.
* Karmichael Hunt (Knights): played his league under Wayne Bennett at the Broncos before becoming first NRL star to switch to AFL.
* Berrick Barnes (Cowboys): only left the Broncos to bide his time until Darren Lockyer retired but became a Wallabies star.
* Israel Dagg (Warriors): All Blacks and Crusaders fullback who has become New Zealand’s latest pin-up boy.
* James O’Connor (Dragons): Electrifying Wallabies back who would be ideally suited to the NRL
* Liam Messam (Rabbitohs): All Blacks forward who previously attracted interest from Wests Tigers and is considered similar to Glenn Stewart.
* David Pocock (Raiders): Wallabies captain and the only Australian forward likely to make the transition to the NRL.
* Owen Farrell (Sea Eagles): the 20-year-old son of former Wigan captain Andy Farrell plays in the centres for England’s rugby union team.
* Rene Ranger (Bulldogs): Blues winger whose strength and speed has many believing he would be the best suited New Zealander for a code switch.
* Chris Ashton (Sharks): prolific try-scorer for England rugby union team who began his career at fullback or wing with Wigan.
* Sonny Bill Williams (Roosters): will return to the NRL next season after proving himself to be one of the best rugby union in the world.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.