There has been a lot of talk about million-dollar players lately – especially now that the salary cap is set to reach $5.8 million.
The reality is, the game’s top players are going to command six figure salaries very soon.
But is it worth it to have a million-dollar player in your squad? What is the best way for an NRL club to disperse its salary cap?
There’s no doubt Melbourne have been the benchmark of the competition in the last few years. Their strategy has been to build a team around three incredible talents, with the remainder of the cap taken up by much lower paid players.
North Queensland are a different matter. They really only have one marquee player – Johnathan Thurston – meaning they have some wiggle room for a few higher quality players around him.
They have the experienced and exciting Matt Bowen, to arguably the game’s best prop in Matt Scott.
But even with those players around him, the buck still stops with JT in Townsville. The Cowboys success has been contingent on him for the last eight years. And when he negotiates his new contract for 2014, there’s a very good chance he’ll become the game’s first million-dollar player.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is a team like St. George-Illawarra. During the Bennett years, the Dragons lacked any standout, marquee players.
It’s hard to imagine anyone in that premiership-winning side on more than $400,000 a year.
You can see these contrasting approaches in clubs currently in “rebuilding” phases, too.
Penrith, for example have shunned the “marquee player” approach, off-loading bona fide NRL superstars in Michael Jennings, Luke Lewis and Michael Gordon in the past year.
Meanwhile, they have been incredibly active in the player market, with around 20 new faces joining the club this season – and none of them likely to command a massive salary.
Parramatta, another club attempting to rebuild, have taken the opposite approach. They’ve paid top dollar for the likes of Chris Sandow and Will Hopoate and were looking to fork out more for Israel Folau.
Then there’s the rumoured contract negotiations of Jarryd Hayne – another potential million-dollar player.
So my question is this: as we head into the future, which strategy do you think is going to yield the most success for NRL clubs?
If you were in charge of a salary cap, would you gamble on one or two marquee signings, or disperse the dollars more evenly across the board?