Rabbitohs stalemate with Adam Reynolds exposes NRL salary cap’s biggest flaw
Rabbitohs stalemate with Adam Reynolds exposes NRL salary cap’s biggest flaw

Crawley: Biggest flaw in NRL salary cap exposed

The situation surrounding Adam Reynolds' uncertain future at South Sydney exposes the biggest flaw in the NRL salary cap - and it needs urgent attention.

Because if the game's bosses have enough spare time to come up with a kneejerk reaction as they did this week to bring in the 18th man (which I see as purely window dressing to try to show the NRL is taking concussion seriously), surely the governing body can also come up with a better plan to bring back more loyalty into rugby league.

And they could start by giving players like Reynolds a greater incentive not to sell out to the highest bidder and in turn give loyal fans more home grown heroes to cheer their entire careers.

It would be an injustice to everyone who has played any part in Reynolds' rise from the little boy who grew up in Redfern housing commission to see the now Rabbitohs captain pull on a rival club's colours for the final years of his career.


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Adam Reynolds in 2011.
Adam Reynolds in 2011.


The fact of the matter is Souths have put in all of the work developing Reynolds into the player he is today.

From the time he started playing to his rise through the junior representative system, from Harold Matts to SG Ball and Jersey Flegg, before debuting in the top grade way back in 2012.

And all up, Reynolds has given most of his 30 years on this earth to spilling blood and busting bones for his beloved Rabbitohs.

But now, when he is at a time in his career when he should get repaid for his loyalty, the salary cap is basically forcing Souths to kick Reynolds out on the street.

And the irony is that because his body is so bashed up is the only reason the Rabbitohs are baulking at giving Reynolds anything longer than a one-year deal, because the club has been burnt by giving big payouts in the past.

Yet other more desperate clubs are still prepared to run the gauntlet and give Reynolds a longer deal just so they can get a quick fix.

It is so blatantly wrong that the game should hang its head in shame for allowing this to happen



And if Reynolds ends up leaving to take up a bigger offer at a less successful club like North Queensland, or whoever else might want to throw the big bucks at him, then we may as well never use the word loyalty in rugby league again.

There simply has to be a greater salary cap reward than the paltry $188,000 of the $9.02m salary cap that currently goes to long serving players.

And it is important to understand that this $188,000 figure for each club is divided among all players with more than eight years' service (or a top 30 player with at least 10 years across the game).

To put it in perspective, it represents just over two per cent of the entire salary cap.

Is that really how much our game values loyalty?

What I think should happen is that any player who has stuck with the one club for 10 years of NRL service (or 12 years across all grades) should have their total salary wiped completely off the cap.

Or at the very least make it a significant enough percentage to discourage this mercenary mindset that has taken over the modern game.

Because this is not just a rule that would benefit the Rabbitohs and Reynolds.

It would actually benefit every club that wants to put time and effort into creating long term success and a loyal culture rather than simply always chasing a quick fix.

Other players who would instantly qualify as 10-year club players would be Alex Glenn in Brisbane, Jarrod Croker, Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton at Canberra, Josh Jackson at Canterbury, Wade Graham and Andrew Fifita at Cronulla, Daly Cherry-Evans and Jorge Taufua at Manly, Jesse Bromwich at Melbourne, Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan at North Queensland, and Jake Friend, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Boyd Cordner and Daniel Tupou at the Roosters.

Now some people might say the last thing we need is seeing successful clubs getting more of an advantage.

But the point I make is why should any club be penalised?

Of course, there is no way you could guarantee every club will want to keep all players who qualify for long service allowances.

And if a club, or the player, wants a change than the player could still become a free agent.

Some clubs might also not want to foot an extra bill outside of the cap and that would be their call.



But at least all parties should be given every possible chance to choose loyalty rather than being penalised under a system that is specifically designed to reward failure.

It would an embarrassment to see Reynolds playing in any other colours, just as it would be seeing Jarrod Croker or Jake Friend or any of these long serving veterans forced out in years to come.

Remember, these injuries Reynolds has suffered over the years will most likely give him pain for the rest of his life.

Surely he deserves the chance to at least finish his career at the club where it all started with some dignity and respect.

What is clear is that Reynolds doesn't want to go and the Rabbitohs genuinely don't want to lose him.

And you can say it is mismanagement of the cap that it has got to this.

But it is not mismanagement because the fact is Souths have a lot of younger players that they have also put great effort into developing that are going to be the stars of the next decade and the club wants to stay successful.

But they can't do that at the expense of cheating the cap.

So a club legend becomes collateral damage because of a system that stinks.





Bulldogs' Latrell snub stings

It's the 'no thanks' that Canterbury might regret for years to come.

But it's also a massive credit to Latrell Mitchell how he has responded to all the criticism he copped over the past year and a half.

The South Sydney fullback now leads the Dally M Medal count after three rounds following his man of the match performance against his former club the Sydney Roosters last Friday night.

And counting down to this Friday's clash against the Bulldogs, here's another reason why Latrell might have just a little added motivation for this game.

It is worth remembering that Latrell was so on the nose 17 months ago that even the Bulldogs went to the extraordinary lengths of issuing a public statement to clarify why they were no longer interested in signing the then out-of-favour Rooster.

Then Canterbury chief executive Andrew Hill commented in November 2019: "Usually we don't make comment around our recruitment and retention strategies.

"However, with all the speculation around this matter we thought it was the right thing to do by everyone to confirm we won't pursue an interest in Latrell Mitchell."

Of course, at the time the Bulldogs had every right to be concerned given how Latrell appeared to have lost his focus.

And almost every comment under our online story at the time spoke in support of the Dogs' decision, saying Latrell was "overrated" and "not worth the trouble".

But how times change.

Do you reckon with hindsight the Bulldogs might be regretting that decision now?

The reports were Latrell also turned down a possible $400,000-a-season extra that he could have earned playing for the Wests Tigers to eventually sign with Souths.

Judging by what we're seeing this year, Latrell's decision to take the unders could turn out being the best investment he ever made, while the Dogs are left wondering what might have been.


Originally published as Crawley: Biggest flaw in NRL salary cap exposed

Adam Reynolds during his high school days. Picture: Andy Baker
Adam Reynolds during his high school days. Picture: Andy Baker