Leeds Rhinos: Our game has to plug the player drain - Ablett

England's  Josh Hodgson who is just one of several British players plying their rugby league trade in Australia.
England's Josh Hodgson who is just one of several British players plying their rugby league trade in Australia.
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SUPER LEAGUE can’t afford to keep losing good players.

Over the last few years some good talent has gone to either the NRL or rugby union – or in Sam Burgess’s case, both.

I think there are 13 English players with NRL clubs this year, including the likes of Tyrone McCarthy, Joe Burgess, Mike Cooper, James Graham, Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson.

Wigan’s Dan Sarginson is the latest England international heading Down Under and his team-mate Josh Charnley will be switching codes with Sale next season.

Good luck to them.

I wouldn’t blame any player for going, but I think rugby league needs to have a look at itself and come up with ways of plugging the player drain.

Wigan won’t fall to pieces because Sarginson and Charnley are moving on and neither will our sport over here.

There’s always a new batch of young kids coming through and one thing we are doing well at the moment is producing good talent.

But we have got to try and keep our best players.

The bigger the player-base we have, the better it is for the clubs, Super League and the international game.

We are up against it. Rugby Union is far richer than we are and the NRL’s salary cap is going up all the time.

I don’t think money is everything, but it is a big factor.

Dan Sarginson has had a great few years and it’s probably a no-brainer for him to go over to Australia – where he was born – and have a great lifestyle and get paid more money.

Who wouldn’t take that kind of opportunity?

We have got players now who can make a name for themselves in the NRL and are as good as anybody over there.

Take Josh Hodgson as an example. He has probably surprised a lot people in the NRL with how well he is doing and he is gaining rave reviews.

Everyone over here knows how good Elliott Whitehead is, but he probably wasn’t widely known in the NRL and he has gone over there and proved himself.

The Burgesses have come on in leaps and bounds since they joined Souths and they are living the dream, so the attractions are obvious.

It is down to personal choice and it is not something I have ever considered.

I am lucky that I have come through at Leeds at a great time in the club’s history and I have been part of something special.

I am a Leeds lad, I supported the club and I am happy here.

I just want to play as many games as I can, but I understand why players do switch codes or go Down Under.

As for how to stop it happening, I think the salary cap is a big part of that.

If we are going to have one, I think everyone in the competition should spend the full cap, otherwise it is pretty pointless.

People are saying the competition is more even this year than ever before, but I don’t think that’s due to the salary cap.

I don’t know how much the cap has gone up since Super League started, but ticket prices have risen and we’ve had new television deals.

The disappointing thing is the players haven’t been rewarded for it.

It seems unfair to me that clubs can spend as much as they like on most aspects of their business, but not on the people who put their bodies on the line every week.

It also seems strange that the chief executives are the ones who decide things like the salary cap.

They aren’t going to vote for wages to increase if they can avoid it!

If clubs are making money and they want to invest it in better players, why shouldn’t they?

There would have to be monitoring to make sure they don’t go bust, but clubs have got into a mess financially even with the cap.

I’d like the cap to be scrapped, but, if not, maybe it would be better if clubs were allowed to spend a certain percentage of their turnover on players’ wages, rather than a set amount.

That would reward the clubs who run their business properly, bring in the biggest crowds and sponsors, and get their marketing right.

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