South Sydney got Sam Burgess’ entire $1 million salary wiped off the salary cap, yet Canterbury can expect less than half of that for losing Kieran Foran to injury while on rep duty.
It is a situation that will have Bulldogs fans barking mad come next week.
Because two and a half months after Kieran Foran went down with a serious shoulder injury while playing Test football for New Zealand, Canterbury is finally expected to get a verdict from the NRL next week on how much money they will have taken off their salary cap for this season.
And it is likely to leave the club and their supporters feeling severely short-changed, especially when they look at how recent events have unfolded for South Sydney.
As it stands NRL policy states a maximum of $350,000 is only allowed in salary cap relief for players injured while on rep duty.
In Foran’s case that represents about one third of his reported $1.2 million annual salary, even though Foran could be sidelined for up to nine months in total.
But on the other hand the Rabbitohs are spending up big with the money they saved from having Sam Burgess’ $1 million-plus salary wiped off the salary cap following his recent medically forced retirement, and before that there was the Greg Inglis decision.
Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill did not want to enter into the debate when contacted, but the fact of the matter is this issue needs to be discussed — and it is up to the NRL to take charge so fans don’t feel cheated.
In the past other clubs have suffered similarly with Canberra in particular receiving no salary cap relief for losing Josh Hodgson and Jordan Rapana to rep injuries in recent years, although that led to a policy change.
But even after changing the guidelines it seems ludicrous that the NRL put a $350,000 limit on this when the elite players, usually on huge salaries, are the ones involved in rep football.
Perhaps a fairer system would be if a percentage of a player’s wage was taken off the cap for every game missed, although that still doesn’t take into account time lost during pre-season which is critically important.
Meanwhile Foran is doing all he can to get back on the field ahead of schedule and is hoping he could be playing at some stage in May.
But the medical advice that has been given to the club suggests it is more likely to be between round 15 and round 20 before Foran is cleared to return.
Canterbury already has the NRL’s youngest and most inexperienced roster but this was a situation completely out of the club’s control.
In Foran’s absence they will have to rely on youngsters Lachy Lewis, Jack Cogger and Brandon Wakeham to carry the load and it just puts unfair pressure on everyone, from Hill and coach Dean Pay down.
When the verdict is handed down at least the Bulldogs should have an extra $350,000 to spend on a new player.
But it’s still small change compared to what the Rabbitohs received for losing Burgess and Inglis.