Leeds Rhinos: Marquee signing idea would benefit bigger teams – McGuire

Billy Slater.

Billy Slater.

0
Have your say

EVERYBODY WOULD like to be paid more, but I am not sure raising the salary cap or bringing in a marquee player exemption is a good idea.

At the moment clubs are limited to spending £1.825million per year on players’ wages.

There’ are some clubs, particularly Salford, who want that raised.

Salford’s owner Dr Marwan Koukash has also called for every club to be allowed a star player whose wage doesn’t count in full on the salary cap.

As I understand it, that means, for example, Salford could sign Billy Slater on £1m per season, but only £100,000 of that would count on the cap.

Koukash has tried a couple of times to get his proposal introduced and from what I’ve heard, he’s not very happy about being turned down.

I have mixed feelings about it.

I think as an idea the marquee player proposal is worth considering.

We need to find ways of growing our competition and attracting top players – from either the NRL or rugby union – is one way of doing that.

But to be honest, I am not sure it would help the sport as a whole. The problem I’ve with that idea is it would benefit the top clubs, but do nothing for the ones who don’t have unlimited cash to spend.

I am sure Salford wouldn’t have been in favour a couple of years ago when they ran out of money, before Dr Koukash took over.

Until every club is spending the full salary cap I don’t think it would be right to raise it or bring in exemptions, because that will just increase the gap between the haves and have-nots.

The salary cap means that top players in Super League are earning less than they could in Australia or the other code.

That’s a worry and I’ve said in this column before that the drain of players out of the British game, either to the NRL or rugby union, is a real threat.

But the salary cap has worked in a lot of ways.

The competition has levelled out in the time I’ve been involved in Super League and it’s a lot different now to 20 or so years ago, when Wigan were the richest club and could afford to buy all the best talent.

I don’t think anybody would want to go back to those days when one club dominated every competition.

There’s still only been four clubs who have won the Super League title, but at the start of this round there were two points between top spot in the table and the team in fifth and that shows it is becoming more of a level playing field. There’re still some clubs who are struggling and it’s a shame that London have been relegated so early and Bradford might join them this weekend.

But we don’t get as many blow-out scores as there used to be and, on their day, just about any team in the league can beat any other.

What we need is more money coming into the game and for all clubs to be well-run and financially stable. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, but there’s still some clubs who are obviously struggling financially and are finding it tough to keep themselves afloat.

I think until those clubs are on a more stable footing we should leave things as they are.

****

IN THIS country we always seem to follow what the Aussies do.

It makes sense in a way, because otherwise we end up with two sets of rules on different sides of the world.

Two referees could be the next innovation we import from Down Under, but whether it would improve our game as a spectacle, I am not too sure.

There’s an experiment going on at the moment in the academy and our under-19s played under two refs last weekend.

From what I can tell, it didn’t make much difference and I don’t really believe in making changes for the sake of it.

As players we now have more of a say in things than we used to, through the League 13 union, but I tend to let the decision-makers make the decisions and then deal with them when they happen.

The idea behind two referees is that they will speed the game up and make it cleaner around the ruck area.

That’s a good thing, but I am not sure it would work over here because we don’t have the resources they do in the NRL.

I don’t think there’s the number or quality of referees in this country to have two per game, plus all the in-goal judges, video referees and touch judges we have at the moment.

If they are seriously thinking about bringing it in over here I think the first step has to be to recruit more match officials and raise their standards.

That’s not a dig at the referees we have at the moment.

Overall I think they do a decent job, in often tough circumstances.

They do make mistakes and have bad games every now and then, but so do players and you just have to accept that as part of the game.

I think the focus should be on the players, rather than the referees. If a game is flowing, there’s not many penalties and nobody notices the man in the middle, then I think he has probably had a good game.

It’s when the referee grabs the spotlight that players and fans tend to get frustrated.

Ideas like wiring the referees and video refs for sound has made them part of the entertainment and I am not sure that’s a good thing.

Another thing to consider is whether we actually need to speed the game up.

Super League has definitely got a lot quicker during my time in the game and I think in general players want to get on with it, rather than interfere and mess around at the ruck.

****

ONE OF my proudest moments in sport came on Monday, when I won the Leeds players’ association golf day!

The claret jug has now got a prized place on my mantlepiece. Zak Hardaker, Ryan Hall and myself took out most of the prizes and we got a bit of stick from the lads, who were calling us bandits, but a good time was had by all. Until fairly recently it was the past players’ association, so members of the current team weren’t eligible to join. Now they have opened it up so present players are part of it as well.

I am really proud to be a member. Some of the players from the 60s, 70s and 80s are legends in the game and being born and bred in Leeds it is great to be able to rub shoulders with them and hear stories of what the game used to be like. I have played in the golf day for the last four or five years and it’s one of the highlights of the calendar.

There’s also an annual dinner and I think it’s great that players of previous generations can still feel part of the club and haven’t been forgotten.

Liam Sutcliffe touches down for Leeds Rhinos against Warrington. Picture: Steve Riding.

Brian McDermott refuses to get too carried away despite clean sheet for Leeds Rhinos