League, not union, is showing the benefit of funding the grassroots

AJ Moore Roar Rookie

By AJ Moore, AJ Moore is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    It all began in January this year when St George signed Ben Hunt for approximately $6 million over six years, which is one of the most expensive signings of the game.

    Regardless of whether you believe Hunt has earned his massive payday or not, that isn’t the biggest issue that has arisen from the monster deal.

    The biggest effect of the signing was the rapid inflation of the player market, which has resulted in player managers using Hunt’s value as a benchmark for their clients.

    Their argument is if Ben Hunt can make over $1 million a season being a club player with no Origin or international experience, why shouldn’t players like Mitchell Moses from Wests Tigers be making the same money?

    Moses was asking for over $750K from the Tigers, which, as history has shown, was found to be an unacceptable amount.

    Mitchell Moses Parramatta Eels NRL Rugby League 2017 tall

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    This is all intertwined in a still-running battle between the NRL and RLPA about next year’s salary cap, which needs to be resolved before it becomes a Cricket Australia-style slugging match.

    The riddle the two sides are arguing over is an age-old sporting conundrum. Is it better to pay current players enough to secure a life after football, or to fund the next generation of stars?

    The same dilemma has plagued the Australian Rugby Union for years, with a flailing Super Rugby enterprise looking more fragile every day and the Wallabies being continuously thrashed worse than a late 2000s Origin Blues team by the Kiwis.

    The simple fact of the matter is nobody wants to go watch union, and one symptom of this is the fact most of their stars (Israel Folau, Karmichael Hunt and Marika Koroibete) are all poached from rugby league and not extracted from their own grassroots.

    The NRL is thankfully not facing the same problem, with many young players coming up through the ranks such as Kalyn Ponga and Nathan Cleary showing the funding of the up-and-comers is paying its dividend.

    They can’t afford to grow complacent though, and that is why they are so reluctant to give in to the demands of the RLPA without some haggling.

    Funding of junior sports is always a preventative rather than a cure, and it might seem like you can short-change them in exchange for keeping stars such as Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk in the game.

    However, every legend of the game began as a small kid in a loose footy jersey drinking Gatorade after a Saturday junior game with his mates. If you don’t give them the proper opportunity to play, we’ll end up with games filled with millionaire 40 year olds, and that’s only acceptable in tennis.

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    The Crowd Says (44)

    • July 16th 2017 @ 3:35am
      jeff dustby said | July 16th 2017 @ 3:35am | ! Report

      Hunt is getting less than 1 milion a season from the Dragons next year. dont believe the telegraph.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 6:42am
      Daveski said | July 16th 2017 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      Ponga has a union background so um whatever the point of this article is, one of its main examples is incorrect anyway.

      • July 16th 2017 @ 2:32pm
        Jimmmy said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

        Perhaps read the history of Kaylyn Ponga before you comment. Playing union at school does not mean you have a union background , just ask Wally Lewis.

      • Roar Rookie

        July 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm
        William Dalton Davis said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:35pm | ! Report

        In 2011, Ponga and his family returned to Australia, settling in Mackay, where he attended Mackay State High School, where he was a member of the Rugby League Academy program, and played junior rugby league for Souths Mackay. Also in 2011, he was signed to a scholarship with the Central Queensland NRL bid side. In 2012, he was selected for the Australian Schoolboys under-15 side, becoming just the second 14-year old to make the side.

        In 2013, Ponga, then a scholarship holder with the Brisbane Broncos, moved to Brisbane. He attended Anglican Church Grammar School and played for the Easts Tigers in the Cyril Connell Cup. That year he made the Australian Schoolboys under-15 side for the second consecutive year.

        You’re the one who’s incorrect.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 7:06am
      JohnnoMcJohnno said | July 16th 2017 @ 7:06am | ! Report

      Hunt has represented Australia on three occasions in 2014. I’d call that Imternational experience.

      Don’t disagree with your general arguement though. Balance between stars, juniors, development and providing a worthwhile experience for the fans is key. Head office bureaucracy should be a distant last in the remuneration stakes which is where it all seems to go pear-shaped in every sport.

    • Roar Guru

      July 16th 2017 @ 8:21am
      Joey Johns said | July 16th 2017 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Rugby League is showing the benefits of swindling money out of the poorest of society to pay $300 a week to Q Cup U20’s.

      “Grassroots” clubs in Union (generally) don’t rely on Pokie revenue streams. Almost every leagues club however…

    • July 16th 2017 @ 9:01am
      pillga said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Didn’t Kalyn Ponga only switch from union to league 3 years ago i guess that’s long enough to be called a grass roots player

      • Roar Rookie

        July 16th 2017 @ 10:45am
        Don said | July 16th 2017 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Kalyn Ponga only ever played Rugby Union at Churchie – never for a junior Rugby club or prior to high school.

        He even had an agreement at Churchie where he was allowed to attend the Rugby League schoolboys representative carnivals rather than the Rugby ones. He is one of the very few Rugby League Australian Schoolboys and U18 players to be selected while attending a GPS RU school.

        And, he was signed to the NQ Cowboys the whole time he was playing schoolboys Rugby at Churchie.

        So yeah, he is a grass roots League player indeed.

        • July 16th 2017 @ 2:36pm
          Jimmmy said | July 16th 2017 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

          Someone who has some idea. He had a Broncos scolarship if I Remember correctly. Yes he played Union but he always played league so of course he is a grassroots player!

      • July 16th 2017 @ 10:46am
        Flea said | July 16th 2017 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        No, he played both most of his life.

        • July 17th 2017 @ 5:44pm
          nerval said | July 17th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

          No he didn’t, Flea.

          Read Don’s posts and learn.

    • July 16th 2017 @ 9:25am
      Birdy said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      RU in Australia is dying a slow death due to self strangulation.
      While i admit , as a game it has become more watchable for non purists like myself,the comp they have inflicted on their viewers is totally rediculous with absolutely no positives.
      Sorry 1 very big positive. All the NRL has to do when we next expand is everything totally different to RU.
      While i was only a casual watcher of SR, as a result of the insanity of all things off the field I havn’t bothered in the last 2 seasons.

      • July 16th 2017 @ 9:37am
        Justin Kearney said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Agreed birdy. Cant watch super rugby anymore as i dont gave a clue how the comp works. As far as the article is concerned the arl doesn’t run grassroots any better than the aru. It just has a lot more money. The player pool is going to diminish through sheer incompetence of administrators.

        • July 16th 2017 @ 9:47am
          Birdy said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

          I agree Justin,
          Where i live very much a RL stronghold, all i hear from parents is What ARL assistance?

          • July 16th 2017 @ 9:57am
            Justin Kearney said | July 16th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

            And the arl continues to be blissfully unaware of the issue. Participation rates are dying in many but not all regions and the arl has no idea what to do about it. Under 19s comps are almost non existent in sydney. Its a disgrace.

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