NRL says no to Benji's Japan rugby hopes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NRL says no to Benji's Japan rugby hopes

18/02/2009 09:37:24 PM Comments (0)

NRL boss David Gallop says he'd prefer to lose his sport's star players to rugby union permanently than have them jump codes temporarily.

Gallop has put league's stars on notice that off-season code-swapping - in the wake of Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall's bid to play rugby union in Japan - won't be tolerated.

Marshall, who is off contract at the end of the season, wanted to temporarily switch codes to play in Japan without finalising a new deal with the Tigers, then re-sign with the NRL club when he returned early next year.

The NRL has rejected that plan out of hand.

And a tough-talking Gallop had a message for league stars looking to switch to union to top up their incomes in the off-season - you need to choose one code or the other.

When asked if it was preferable to risk a player like Marshall switching codes permanently rather than making an occasional guest stint in union, Gallop said: "Yeah, if I had to plump for one or the other.

"I'd certainly say he needs to make a choice, because he can't do both.

"I can't think of a business which would allow one of its star performers to go work for the opposition in the off-season.

"If I work for Coke, I'm not going to be allowed to go to Pepsi for a few months."

"It's more important to us we keep the integrity of our salary cap than trying to chase every time there's a big offer from overseas."

But even with moves like Marshall's now officially outlawed and the 2011 Rugby World Cup likely to spark more raids on league talent, Gallop rejected suggestions the NRL needed to relax or revamp its $4.1 million salary cap.

League has already lost three of its highest-profile players to cashed-up European rugby clubs in the past two years - Mark Gasnier, Sonny Bill Williams and Craig Gower.

Already highly-rated Melbourne Storm youngster Will Chambers has announced he will quit league in 2010 to link up with the Queensland Reds - the Storm saying they can't match the money on offer in the 15-man game.

Gallop said the salary cap was more important than ever for NRL clubs, given the current economic climate.

"I don't see that (rugby union poaching players) as a need for change," Gallop said while in Melbourne to address Storm players and officials on Wednesday.

"Obviously we don't want to see players go across to rugby union but from time to time they're going to take that option.

"For us it's a choice of keeping players or keeping clubs financially stable.

"In those circumstances, we'll always take the latter.

"It's more important to us we keep the integrity of our salary cap than trying to chase every time there's a big offer from overseas."

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