NRL could cut salary cap if player behaviour doesn't improve

The NRL salary cap for next season could be reduced and player payments revised as a result of the impact of negative off-field behaviour.

In the collective bargaining agreement there is a provision which states "adverse changes" can give the NRL power to hit the players in the pocket if revenue was to dramatically drop.

Clubs have been discussing the potential for a reduced salary cap in 2020, given the CBA allows for downward revisions of player payments in certain events.

Those events include a $10 million reduction in NRL revenues in any one year compared with initial forecasts.

The document also states such dramatic measures may be triggered if there is a $15m reduction in combined revenues from the NRL and the clubs in any one year compared with initial forecasts.

The NRL said it was too early to speculate on any change to the salary cap for next year.

"The season has not even started yet," a spokesman said.

"We will not be in a position to estimate any impact on our finances until later this year."

ARL Commission chair Peter Beattie told NRL.com last week the game was expecting to lose millions as the fallout from the "train wreck" of an off-season continues.

"I have a rough figure in my head but I’m not going to share it with you,” Beattie said.

"Let me give you a serious answer nevertheless because it’s important question. We actually lost a lot of money. We lost millions out of this, let’s be really clear. We have to rebuild that.

"Some of that was potential … some clubs have lost money, they told me they lost sponsors when I rung around and spoke to all the chairs. But it’s potential that we’ve lost.

"If you look at our financial figures we released to the chairs the other day, 2018 was a good year. We’re in the black. But that was last year. When people see these figures remember it was last year. This year it will not be as good and it will not be as good because of the impact of off-field behaviour."

Several clubs have struggled attracting sponsors. The Cronulla Sharks only managed to land a major sponsor last week.

There has also been a flow-on effect to other stakeholders involved in the game.

The adverse measures the NRL have the power to implement will only occur in a dire situation. It’s hard to argue the game isn’t in a dire situation as it continues to be caught up in a never-ending saga of player misbehaviour.

Panthers gave players warning

Panthers management called the players into a meeting last week. They gave them a chance to come forward with any dirt. The players didn’t realise the NRL Integrity Unit was on the way over to grill them.

Penrith have shown great leadership from the very start. They didn’t hide from it. The same can’t be said for some of their players.

It is believed the videos that have surfaced in the public domain were sent in a Snapchat group.

On Monday some of those players pointed the finger at one person in that group for leaking the videos. That person, who plays for another NRL club, was interviewed by the NRL Integrity Unit on Tuesday and was cleared – for now.

Penrith are bracing for more videos to surface. One was being sent around on Wednesday morning, alleging to be a high-profile player at the club.

What the club are struggling to understand is how, through all the guidance and education they have provided to these players throughout their time at the club, did they ever feel that this sort of behaviour was acceptable?

De Belin back at Dragons training

As reported by NRL.com last week, St George Illawarra granted Jack de Belin some time away to deal with the impact of NRL standing him down as he faces sexual assault charges.

De Belin returned to training on Tuesday and was made to feel welcome by his teammates. As it stands the Dragons are still none the wiser as to whether they will be granted salary cap relief as a result of the NRL standing him down.

St George Illawarra would have to fork out money from their own pockets if they bring in another player given they still have to pay de Belin.

Lawrence flies home to uncertain future

Wests Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence has only arrived back in Sydney on Wednesday morning after severely fracturing multiple bones in his face during a training collision with Ben Matulino in New Zealand last week.

Lawrence, who was one of their best forwards in 2018, is facing up to four months on the sidelines as a result of the injury that prevented him from flying home for the past few days. It’s a huge blow to the Tigers, but equally significant for Lawrence.

Chris Lawrence's post on Instagram after suffering facial injuries last week.
Chris Lawrence's post on Instagram after suffering facial injuries last week.

The 30-year-old is off contract at the end of this year and may not get a lot of time on the field. Hopefully the Wests Tigers have learnt from the drama over the past few years in regards to the way they treat club legends when they come towards the end of their careers.

Lawrence has been a stalwart of the club and has often been the player thrown to the wolves when incidents have occurred. He’s lost close friends as a result of decisions the club has made, but he’s been a loyal servant nonetheless. You’d like to think the club would show the same loyalty in return.

Rapana on track for early return

Canberra are expecting winger Jordan Rapana back from injury a lot sooner than originally anticipated.

It was feared Rapana would be out until round 12 with a shoulder injury suffered in New Zealand’s end-of-season Test series against England.

The Raiders have hopes he may only miss the first month of the season. Rapana is off contract at the end of the year, with the Raiders holding off on opening negotiations to extend his term.

Bennett hits it off with Reynolds

Wayne Bennett has often get the best out of players by cuddling them. Jamie Soward was one of them – turning the maligned playmaker into one of the best five-eighths in the competition when he joined the Dragons in 2009.

It’s understood Bennett has taken Adam Reynolds under his wing since joining the Rabbitohs in the hope of having a similar impact on his football.

Reynolds is a notorious prankster, adding Bennett to his list of targets. He’s constantly paying out on his age, yelling out bingo numbers and telling him it is past his bed time at 5.30pm.

Bunnies light up Mudgee but left cold

South Sydney and the Dragons should be commended for their efforts in Mudgee in the lead-up to the Charity Shield last week.

They got out in the community in the build up and helped promote the game. But three Rabbitohs players went the extra mile when they stumbled across a house decked out in South Sydney colours with the sign "the burrow" on the front. Damien Cook, Alex Johnston and Kyle Turner then knocked on the front door of the home, much to the surprise of the owners. The trio went inside for a coffee and spent some time with the couple.

The Rabbitohs also stayed around on the field for 45 minutes after the match to mingle with many of the 9200 fans that turned up on Saturday night.

Kyle Turner, Alex Johnston and Damien Cook dropped in on some die-hard Rabbitohs fans in Mudgee.
Kyle Turner, Alex Johnston and Damien Cook dropped in on some die-hard Rabbitohs fans in Mudgee. ©rabbitohs.com.au

By the time they got in the sheds there was no hot water left. They all jumped on the bus and headed back to the hotel for a shower.

The next day the club went to the Country Racing Championship, with the Burgess twins involving themselves in the day. The pair volunteered to MC and judge the fashion show. The mayor of Mudgee, as well as general punters, didn't hide their happiness with the club's behaviour on the day.

Glasby a Knights leading light

Newcastle will announce their leadership group at Wednesday night’s club season launch. It’s a peer-selected group that will include former Melbourne prop Tim Glasby. It goes to show why the Knights were so keen to have a player with his experience and qualities on board in 2019.

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.