Lockyer's solution to player raids - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer's solution to player raids

By Wayne Heming 02/08/2008 01:50:42 PM Comments (0)

Australian captain Darren Lockyer says "elite contracts" costing the NRL $6 million could be the answer to retaining its marquee players.

Lockyer used his weekly newspaper column to float the idea of the NRL topping up the contracts of the games leading 30 or so players based on their commercial worth to rugby league.

"I must stress that the NRL and not the clubs should look at paying on top of a player's club contract, a separate commercial contract for elite players," Lockyer wrote.

"An elite groups of say 30 players - based on what that players is worth to the game commercially.

"Say the most a top end player can get from the NRL as a top up sum is $300,000 and the minimum is $100,000, then the average per player will be $200,000.

"It would do a lot to stop high profile players leaving the NRL.

"Thirty players at an average of $200,000 would mean the NRL would have to find $6 million a season and would stand a much better chance of keeping its players.

"I don't think $6 million is something the NRL, given it's turnover and its multi-million dollar TV rights, wouldn't be able to find in its next budget."

Lockyer's comments follow the recent defections to cashed-up French rugby union clubs who have poached Test stars Mark Gasnier and Kiwi international Sonny Bill Williams away from League.

Both players were marketed by rugby league as headline acts for the October World Cup but neither of them is likely to play.

Lockyer said while it was too late to keep Gasnier and Williams and elite contract system could prevent players such as Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau and even his Brisbane, Queensland and Australian teammate Karmichael Hunt from jumping codes in the future.

"An elite contract would make it more attractive for those guys, who people love to watch either live or on the box, to stay in rugby league," said Lockyer.

Lockyer was cautious about bagging Williams for walking out on his Bulldogs teammates last week.

"There's been plenty of criticism over how he left his club," he said.

"I wouldn't go in too heavy on him before I knew the full details - and I don't."

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