Roosters in-line for cap relief over big rugby coup… but there’s a catch amid Suaalii question

NRL clubs could be rewarded even greater for targeting talent from other codes.

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys says the topic of providing discounts to clubs for signing new players from rival codes will be on the agenda in next March’s “strategy day” meeting.

As reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, the matter was discussed at the ARL Commission’s final meeting of 2023 this week amid the prospect of an 18th team potentially joining the competition as soon as 2026.

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Expansion would of course further thin the depth of talent, so clubs would be in favour of getting cap relief for exploring external codes to sign players.

A new policy would mean the Sydney Roosters would receive even greater salary compensation for signing Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase to a two-year deal from 2025 worth roughly $900,000 should he arrive in Bondi prior to any changes being rubber stumped.

The Roosters could get Mark Nawaqanitawase for an even bigger bargain (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Another name on the radar of clubs including the Roosters is rugby rising star Max Jorgensen, who’s off contract with the NSW Waratahs at the end of 2024.

“The discounts were never going to be in place for 2024, but there is still an appetite for it,” V’landys told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’ll discuss it at length next March. It was raised at a board meeting a few years ago, but I want to stress it was never about targeting Rugby Australia.

“The idea was about giving clubs a discount for signing any top player from another code who would add another dimension to rugby league.

“Mark Nawaqanitawase does not start in the NRL until 2025, so the Roosters could still be eligible (for dispensation) if we make a decision by then.”

Meanwhile there would be no concession made for Joseph Suaalii should he seek a return to the NRL after his three-year deal with Rugby Australia, with the potential policy tweak to only apply to new players.

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“But that won’t happen – the discount will only be for new players,” V’landys added.

“If we allowed for that to happen, it would only encourage players to join rugby knowing they can come back at a discounted rate for clubs. That has already been ruled out.”

On the back of the Dolphins’ successful entry in the NRL this year, V’landys confirmed the Commission was “definitely” exploring further expansion, having discussed where a new team would be based and what year it’d join the comp.

Papua New Guinea in the box seat to be named the 18th NRL side after it was backed by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to improve international relations.

A fourth club in south-east Queensland or even Perth are other locations that have sparked public interest for a new NRL license.

“All I can say about expansion is we’re definitely looking at it,” V’landys said.

“All the hard work will be done in the next three months, and after that we’ll have a much clearer picture.”

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