Fitzgerald pay cut remarks stupid: Mason - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fitzgerald pay cut remarks stupid: Mason

By Adrian Warren and David Beniuk 28/05/2008 07:15:49 PM Comments (0)

Sydney Roosters superstar Willie Mason has branded Parramatta chief executive Denis Fitzgerald's suggestion the NRL salary cap be reduced "the stupidest comment I've ever heard", warning it would lead to more players heading overseas.

With several Sydney NRL clubs struggling financially, Fitzgerald suggested the NRL look at dropping the $4 million salary cap back to $3.5 million with a $100,000 reduction a season over five years.

The proposal would lead to a reduction in players' wages, a plan that clearly didn't sit comfortably on the shoulders of a well remunerated player like NSW State of Origin and Test forward Mason.

"I think if you lower the salary cap you'd see a bigger defect(ion), players going to Europe, France and England," Mason said.

"It's the stupidest comment I've ever heard."

Roosters coach Brad Fittler cheerfully suggested the media were speaking to "the wrong bloke" about possible salary cap reductions.

Fittler, one of the highest paid players of his generation, said administrators needed to use their imagination to tackle the issue of raising more revenue.

"The quality of the game is getting better, so I don't think the players should be looking at getting pay cuts," Fittler said.

Asked if he had any suggestions for administrators when it came to generating more money, Fittler said: "With imagination and hard work.

"If we look at ways we can limit our spending and make more revenue. I'm sure if you get the right people to put their heads together, I'm sure we can do it."

Long-standing Parramatta boss Fitzgerald said the salary cap couldn't increase and should actually be reduced.

"It's better to have a reduced cap and pay the players in full rather than leave them in the lurch, clubs have to default on payments like what happened to the Northern Eagles, North Sydney and Auckland Warriors," Fitzgerald told News Limited.

Several clubs rely on funding from their licensed clubs, which are struggling to meet the demands of the NSW government's poker machine tax.

Fitzgerald felt the $100,000 a season decrease would help replenish the dwindling coffers of the battling clubs.

He recommended any salary cap reduction commence following the 2010 campaign.

"Obviously clubs would have to be given plenty of notice," Fitzgerald said.

"Most clubs would have their salary cap spent for 2009 and half of it for 2010."

Melbourne Test backrower Michael Crocker is the latest example of the player drain overseas, he will join English Super League club Hull on a three-year deal from next year after the Storm released him from the final year of his contract.

"My three years in Melbourne have been the best of my career and I couldn't have dreamed I would have achieved as much as I have since moving here," he said.

Crocker has never played in a losing Melbourne team, clocking up 29 consecutive wins at the club.

"Michael is a real player's player, and by that I mean his team-mates stand a little taller when he's playing," Storm coach Craig Bellamy said.

Meanwhile imposing Wests Tigers second-rower Chris Heighington re-signed with the club until the end of the 2011 season after receiving interest from St George Illawarra and English Super League clubs.

"The salary cap stops plenty of players from playing nine years at the one club. I'm stoked that I am not one of them," Heighington said.

"Hopefully I will be a one club man for the rest of my career."

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