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Super League losing out to cashed-up NRL

By Ian Laybourn 06/07/2011 04:47:47 PM Comments (0)

English Super League clubs are being warned to lower their expectations when it comes to recruiting NRL players.

A worsening exchange rate between the dollar and the pound and the closing of a loophole in the UK offshore tax system, could signal the end of the big-name signings from Down Under.

Instead of luring stars of the calibre of Trent Barrett, Greg Bird, Willie Mason and Danny Buderus, Super League clubs will almost certainly have to either settle for players unable to secure regular first-grade action or those in the twilight of their careers.

"Australian clubs simply can pay a lot more money," admitted Hull coach Richard Agar, whose acquisition for 2012 of Aaron Heremaia, Brett Seymour and Wade McKinnon has not created the level of interest generated by the club's capture of Mark O'Meley, Craig Fitzgibbon and Shaun Berrigan.

"The players I've got have a genuine desire to come over here. We feel we've done OK this time round but it is getting harder. The pool is getting smaller."

St Helens' signing of Warriors and Kiwis utility Lance Hohaia could be an exception to the new rule but the club have a big hole to fill following the decision of England prop James Graham to move to Canterbury next year.

Graham has clearly been tempted by the success of his international team-mates Gareth Ellis, Gareth Widdop and Sam Burgess in the NRL and Agar is worried that he could set a trend.

"The bigger concern for our game is not going to be recruiting Australians, I reckon it's actually going to be hanging on to our own elite players," he added.

"If they have a desire to test themselves in the NRL and change their lifestyle and earn more money, it can be appealing given the success that Sam Burgess, Gareth Widdop and Gareth Ellis are having.

"If a player is due a testimonial - and James Graham is a perfect example - pretty much that can get covered in a three or four-year contract by going to the NRL."

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