Inside this week’s issue of Big League…
It certainly has been a strange week for player movements and with the June 30 transfer window due to close in less than three weeks, it’s unlikely we have seen the last of it.
It all started last Tuesday when word filtered through that Jamie Soward was going to be playing for the Illawarra Cutters in the NSW Cup, closely followed by reports that Craig Gower had signed on with Newcastle for the rest of the season.
As the week progressed we learnt that Penrith had been told they would be unable to field both Travis Robinson and Matt Moylan in their NRL team due to pressures on their second-tier salary cap and contracted players being fit and available to play. When James Roberts pulled out through injury Robinson got the green light to play against the Tigers while Moylan was banished to Parkes in central-west New South Wales to play for Windsor against Newtown.
On Saturday night, Josh Dugan – the beneficiary of a mid-season trade from the Raiders to the Dragons – almost played his way into the Blues fullback position for Game Two while his new club-mate, Soward, was being linked to a mid-year move to the UK.
On Tuesday Gower fronted the media and paraded his new Knights jersey and the rugby league world now waits to see whether Wayne Bennett will throw him in against the defending premiers in Melbourne on Sunday, almost six years since his last NRL appearance.
The complicated beast that is the multi-faceted salary cap has served us well but I can’t blame Panthers fans for questioning how a local junior can be told he has played too many NRL games for one season while another club can bring back a former Kangaroos captain into their squad midway through the year.
The RLPA and NRL have recently signed off on the collective bargaining agreement but it appears the second-tier cap will need further review. I learnt this week that former NRL stars Isaac Gordon, Josh Cordoba and Steve Southern are all now playing for a tiny town called Calliope in central Queensland in a five-team competition run out of Gladstone.
While it will have given the game in that part of Queensland a massive boost to have players of that calibre representing a town of less than 2,000 people, perhaps if there was greater provision in the second-tier cap these players could contribute to strengthening the depth of the NSW and Queensland Cup competitions.
The salary cap has many different facets that I admit to not having a full grasp of but perhaps it needs a simpler approach so as not to cause so much confusion among rugby league fans.
If the political polls are to be believed, Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan will be out of a job by the end of the NRL season, perhaps I’ll get him to come in and explain it all to me.