Leeds Rhinos: Minimum wage could help retain future stars – McGuire

Former St Helens player Kyle Eastmond, above, is just the sort of player rugby league is attempting to retain in Super League by introducing a marquee ruling.
Former St Helens player Kyle Eastmond, above, is just the sort of player rugby league is attempting to retain in Super League by introducing a marquee ruling.
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IF I could introduce one change to improve life for young players it would be a minimum wage in Super League.

At the moment, pay varies quite widely and young players just coming through don’t get the rewards they deserve, in my opinion.

Breaking through into a Super League club’s top-25 squad is a big achievement and it can be the culmination of 10 years’ work.

Unfortunately, most of the players who come into a club’s academy don’t make it. It’s really competitive and there’s only a limited number of places, so you have to be a bit special to get a squad number.

The ways things are now, players just starting out are at the bottom of the scale and their pay improves as they get more experience and contracts get upgraded.

Obviously someone in their first season isn’t going to get the same wage as a Test player, but it’s a short career and I think anyone who gets as far as the senior team deserves rewarding for that.

The best clubs invest a lot of time, effort and money into young players. The kids coming through are the future for the game and in my opinion they deserve at least a minimum wage when they reach a certain level.

That’s something I’d like to see the players’ unions pushing for and hopefully it will be brought in at some stage in the near future.

I’ve been thinking about this because of all the publicity over the marquee player rule, which was passed last week.

I am actually undecided about whether it’s going to benefit the game in this country or not, but in principle, it’s a good idea.

I’ve written in this column in the past about the danger of players leaving Super League for the NRL or rugby union.

We’ve lost stars like Sam Tomkins, who might be Wigan’s marquee player when he comes back next year, Kyle Eastmond and others, and Super League is a poorer competition without them.

The danger I can see is that the marquee player rule will just benefit the richer clubs and make it tougher for the ones who don’t have the same financial clout.

We’ve got a salary cap now and it is working. You only have to look at how tight the table is this year to see that.

Nobody who has got the game’s best interest at heart wants to see us going back to a big-four who dominate all the trophies.

That said, there’s always room for quality players and it will be interesting to see how clubs go about using their marquee allowance.

I honestly don’t think we are going to see top Aussie superstars suddenly flocking over here from the NRL, but it might tempt some of our best players to stay where they are and hopefully there will be some good-quality additions next season.

From a player’s point of view, I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the marquee man.

He’s going to be expected to deliver the goods and the fans will be on his back if he doesn’t play well every week.

I don’t think it’ll be an issue in the changing room though.

What everyone gets paid isn’t something we really talk about.

It’s not like football, where everyone knows what Wayne Rooney or John Terry earn.

Obviously I have an idea, but it doesn’t particularly bother me if others in the side are on more than I am, as long as I’m happy with my own deal.

As a few players have mentioned in the past, money’s not necessarily the most important thing. Clearly you want to be well-paid and I imagine everyone would like more money than they get at the moment, but we get well treated at Leeds, it is a good environment and we’ve been successful and all of those are a big factor.

In sport you accept that not everybody gets paid the same, that’s just the nature of the business.

As I’ve mentioned, I think there should be a minimum, but pay goes up according to experience, appearances, international caps and so on and there are performance bonuses.

I would be quite happy if we signed a marquee player on more money as long as he won us games and helped make the team successful, because then everybody benefits.

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Today World’s Best Winger Ryan Hall steps into the spotlight to reveal a bit about himself by answering my 10 questions.

Our piano-playing, Rubik’s Cube-solving winger has been a vital member of the squad since making his debut in 2007.

Hally is a bit of a character and he’s a great bloke to have around the place, in training and matches and his Lance Todd Trophy performance at Wembley last year proved his nickname is spot on.

1: What’s your favourite food?
Chinese.

2: Favourite holiday destination?
Dubai.

3: Dream car?
Rolls Royce Phantom.

4: Favourite away ground?
Wigan’s DW Stadium.

5: Toughest opponent?
Aussies!

6: Best rugby league moment?
The Challenge Cup final last year and winning the Lance Todd Trophy.

7: Favourite joke:
Knock knock.
Who’s there?
The interrupting doctor.
The interrupti - 
you’ve got gonerrhea.

8: Wembley or Old Trafford?
Old Trafford, because we haven’t won there in a while.

9: Do you have any superstitions?
The timing of when I put my gumshield in.

10: Funniest team-mate?
Singo!

Jack Walker

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