Incensed South Sydney CEO Blake Solly has slammed complaints about Greg Inglis’ retirement salary cap relief and challenged the NRL to inspect their rivals’ financial transparency.
South Sydney have hit out at the NRL clubs criticising the $1 million salary cap relief the Rabbitohs received for Greg Inglis.
“We know who is driving the misinformation,” said South Sydney club chief executive Blake Solly, who has challenged the NRL to inspect the salary cap activity of all other clubs in the competition.
The drama unfolded a day after The News exclusively revealed Inglis had sensationally ended a self-imposed retirement to sign a one-year deal to play with English Super League club Warrington next year.
Solly said clubs were misinformed, confused and “don’t understand” the salary cap exemption his club received when Inglis retired.
The Rabbitohs were incensed over a confidential email NRL chief operating officer Nick Weeks sent to club CEOs at the time which explained South Sydney’s cap exemption.
“We would be happy for the NRL to provide the same level of transparency and clarity about the salary cap practices of some other clubs,” Solly said.
“In my time in the game, the NRL’s decision on the salary cap treatment of Greg’s salary in 2019 and 2020 is the only time the NRL has communicated such information to all clubs.
“It was also discussed at length in a CEO’s meeting in May, 2019, where all clubs were supportive of the NRL’s position.
“What’s important is that everything Greg was paid in 2019 was included in the salary cap. Some people don’t understand that. It annoys me.
“We know who is driving the misinformation and ringing around.
“I’m surprised, given the transparency in the process and the clarity provided to all clubs 12 months ago, that there are still some clubs confused as to what happened.”
Inglis was paid around $800,000 for last season and that money was included in South Sydney’s salary cap.
He was still medically fit to play but friends said he retired in April last year because he had “lost the desire to play”.
Inglis did not receive any of his $1 million contract money for this year, so Souths didn’t have to fit that amount under the cap in 2020.
Inglis also rejected speculation about his comeback.
“Someone’s always going to bag it,” he told Nine News. “They’re going to come up with their own conspiracy theory. The people involved in my retirement, and the way I’m coming back, they know the real story. We went down the right path. We didn’t use any loopholes. Everything was by the book. We went in a straight line, from A to B.”
Despite reports suggesting Inglis was earning $300,000 a season at Souths after he retired, the real figure was about $100,000, the amount he earned this year as a development coach with the club.
However, clubs are furious Souths received $1 million in salary cap relief for Inglis this year, claiming he had a contract for 2020 and the amount should have been included.
“I couldn’t believe they got that through,” a rival club CEO said.
Another official said: “The $1 million exemption allowed Souths to go out and sign Latrell Mitchell.
“If you sign a player long-term, that is your decision. If he retires, stiff shit. The money should still go into the salary cap.”
Under an agreement reached between the club and the NRL, Inglis was permitted to earn his lost contract money through his new job at Souths.
Having found a new club, Inglis can now be taken off Souths’ football department salary cap. He will remain employed at Souths until he joins Warrington.
The drama over the Inglis money prompted Weeks to circulate an email to every club CEO on May 16 last year.
“Given the level of interest in how the league would approach that salary cap treatment, we have provided information to the media today to explain the approach,’’ the email said.
“I note that clubs were supportive of the auditor’s approach we explained at the meeting, so I expect you will mirror that support when approached by the media.
“The principles applied to the Rabbitohs’ submission are consistent with past applications and will be applied in the same way for future applications.”
Solly said: “All of Greg’s salary for 2019 was included in the salary cap. It was Greg’s decision to retire in 2019. It certainly wasn’t a medical retirement.
“He was the one who effectively walked away from that 2020 contract because he had lost the appetite to play.
“It wasn’t a career-ending injury or a medical retirement where the club was still liable. He was fit to play, medically fit to play.
“Greg has worked with the club in the 2020 season as a development coach, much like Cooper Cronk does at the Roosters.
“We went through a process with the NRL in 2019 and before 2020 to show Greg’s job as development coach was bona fide. The NRL was satisfied this was the case.”
An NRL spokesman said: “There are no additional salary cap implications for South Sydney.
“Greg Inglis was not medically retired and he has not re-signed with South Sydney or another NRL club.”
Inglis’s surprise comeback has sent shockwaves through the game and Warrington have promoted the deal as “one of the biggest signings in Super League history”.
“I can’t wait to get over there and play for a club that has so much rich heritage,” said Inglis, who will join former NRL stars Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop in the Wolves backline.
“I’ve seen the success the team has had in the Challenge Cup and I want to help the team to deliver more glory.
“I’ve played over in England many times in representative footy and love how passionate and vocal the supporters are.”
Wolves and former St George Illawarra coach Steve Price said: “Having had 12 months out of the sport he has had time to refresh both mentally and physically, and he is focused on having a positive influence on Warrington Wolves.”
Warrington CEO Karl Fitzpatrick described the signing as a “gift”.
Inglis’s contract with Wolves is subject to him being granted a visa.