Wayne Bennett has warned NRL clubs that they are not bigger than the game after it emerged they will confront powerbrokers and demand a larger revenue cut.
Besides, the master coach reckons he already has one quick-fire money solution – cut the NRL’s under 20s National Youth Competition (NYC).
It has emerged clubs will meet NRL boss Dave Smith and the ARL Commission in Melbourne on June 18 over a number of issues, including why they are not receiving more money.
A sticking point for club bosses is the fact that they received $120 million in 2014, just 34 per cent of the $350 million in revenue the NRL earned last year.
Veteran coach Bennett empathised with the clubs but believed that they had never had it so good.
“All I can say is that the clubs have never been better off, clubs have never had more money from the game,” he said.
Bennett warned clubs that they should look at the big picture and not drain cash from the code’s infrastructure which established a production line of NRL players.
“You’ve got to be careful. There’s the clubs and there is the game,” he said.
“Revenue is generated by the clubs, but the game provides players to the clubs.
“Whether you are talking about Charleville or Wagga or the whole code there is a great responsibility to make sure the players we see each week are continually being produced at that other level.
“That’s the game (producing the players), not the clubs.”
Bennett believed ditching the NYC would produce a $1 million cash injection for each club.
He said it would also ensure players were groomed via the state leagues in Queensland and NSW, away from NRL squads.
The NRL is considering the NYC’s future after it emerged five young footballers in two years died suddenly after struggling with the weight of expectation in the NRL club-affiliated under 20s.
“If they all want to save money they can just cut the 20s out, there’s a million there for each club,” Bennett said.
“The AFL have got the right model. The AFL are about elitism at the club level and one squad, and I hope one day we will be able to do that.
“That will produce the best product and the game will look after everything below that.
“We have two really strong state leagues. That’s the place where all the feeder stuff has to be done and the development.”