Club marquee payments back on NRL agenda

The marquee player payment will remain an official part of NRL policy despite the game’s governing body neglecting to dip into its war chest to lure Sam Burgess back to rugby league.

But support is growing within the game for a club marquee player allowance – which would sit outside the salary cap – to be brought into the NRL.

Dave Smith has consistently rejected appeals for clubs to be able to field one superstar player in their roster, whose salary would sit outside the salary cap.

However with the former banker’s departing the game at the end of next month the idea, which was recently introduced in a form in the English Super League and is a key component of the A-League, is again gathering momentum.

Several of the game’s biggest clubs are understood to be behind the idea, one they believe would facilitate a more even spread of play talent across the 16 clubs.

It’s sure to be one of the key issues Smith’s successor will have to deal with when he is ushered in.

The player contract regulation brought into the Super League in June is a tinkered form. Under their new rules only STG175,000 ($A374,000) of a nominated player’s salary counted towards a club’s total cap of almost STG2 million, no matter what his full salary is.

Under A-League policy each side is allowed two marquee players, whose pay is not included in the salary cap.

Despite speculation to the contrary, the NRL did not use Smith’s highly- touted marquee player payment to bring Burgess back to the NRL.

The dual international rejoined South Sydney on Friday in a three-year deal.

But NRL head of football Todd Greenberg, who is a candidate to succeed Smith, said the marquee player payment could be used in the future.

“It is still there and it gives flexibility for the game if it would like to use it,” Greenberg said.

“It may be used once in a generation but it is there.

“The flexibility was given for the game to spend those funds but it wasn’t required in regard to Sam Burgess.

“The negotiations for Sam to come back were an issue for the club not for the game.”

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