Mini warns NRL over Benji stance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mini warns NRL over Benji stance

By Todd Balym 19/02/2009 06:31:56 PM Comments (0)

Former Test fullback Anthony Minichiello has warned the NRL will lose more stars if they don't relax their stance on players earning money elsewhere.

Minichiello's call came only hours after the Sydney Roosters were briefed by NRL chief executive David Gallop about the state of the game and the players questioned the league boss over Benji Marshall's plans to play rugby in Japan.

Gallop has threatened Marshall with an NRL ban if he plays union in Japan and returns to play with the Tigers as he doesn't want to share players with the game's "competitors".

But the players believe if stars like Marshall can earn money overseas and still fulfill their club commitments then the NRL should not stand in the way.

"I suppose the NRL has to think if they want to keep losing players to other codes or if they want to let these players go overseas and then come back and play in the NRL as well," said Minichiello.

"There is always an uproar that people are leaving the code for better money overseas, maybe this is the way you can keep them in the game.

"I don't see a problem in Benji doing that at all. I don't think any player would see a problem in it.

"It is up to the club and if the club wants to risk their player by sending him over there then it's entirely up to the player and club if they want to do that."

Roosters coach Brad Fittler said he would allow one of his star players the freedom to top up his income overseas if it meant the club could retain him for several more NRL seasons.

Fittler sees Japanese rugby as more ally than enemy and believes the NRL should look at ways to capitalise on the opportunities for players offshore if it means they remain committed to rugby league.

"There are ways we can utilise that money and let our players play in the NRL," said Fittler.

"You've just got to make sure they're contracted and make that part of their deal.

"If they want to play then maybe they have to have a couple of years at least in their contract with the NRL so they're not just going over there and using it as a stepping stone to bigger and better things in rugby union.

"If they want to go there and take the money, I reckon beautiful.

"I think there's ways we can utilise the Japanese rugby union that can financially benefit our game."

Both Fittler and Minichiello refuted suggestions a stint in Japan would increase the risk of injury or be too physically demanding, arguing an NRL offseason is just as brutal on the body.

"I don't think Japanese rugby union would be that hard honestly. Without disrespecting their game I just think a rugby league preseason would be as physical and as intense," said Fittler.

Meanwhile, Fox Sports announced they would screen the World Club Challenge final between Manly and Leeds Rhinos live at 5am (AEDT) on March 2.

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