His sense of timing might not have
impressed the NRL, but the South Sydney Rabbitohs CEO is spot on with his call
for players to be penalised when salary cap rorts are disclosed.

Shane Richardson chose a meeting of Club
Chief Executives on the day of the NRL season launch to say what many, many
league followers have been thinking – that systemic salary cap rorting can only
happen when players (AND their managers/agents) are in on the sting.

That is the point I made when the Warriors
rorts first made the headlines. The net needs to catch everyone in on the rort,
and not just the club officials who naturally bear the brunt of the burden.

As Richardson told his fellow Chief
Executives, it is nonsense to pretend that players and their managers are
ignorant of salary cap abuses – payments above what their declared contracts
say, third party agreements, side benefits and “retirement” promises.

Richardson wants players who take
part in, and benefit from, salary cap abuse to be suspended for a minimum of
six weeks. And I want managers/agents who negotiate
illegal payments and deals to be banned from managing any NRL player.

It is disappointing the NRL decided not to
take any action against Warriors players who clearly benefited from the massive
rorting of the salary cap rules by the club when it clearly has the power to do
so.

Rugby league fans who want no
more than a level playing field will be hoping the NRL revisits the issue at the same time as investigating
the role of player managers.

Monetary penalties alone have simply not
been a deterrent to salary cap breaches – major and minor. The threat of a long
suspension might just be enough to discourage greedy players – and their greedy
agents – from putting pressure on clubs to do deals they know should not be
done.

I wrote earlier this week that the issue has a
long way to go. Now that one very disgruntled former Dragons player, Lance
Thompson, has alleged he was made an illegal offer by the Club, it looks like we’ve only just begun.

Peter Fray

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