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NRL clubs agree the salary cap needs to rise

Club chief executives have agreed to raise the salary cap to about $3.5 million, a figure the NRL will use as a starting point in collective bargaining agreement negotiations with the players association.

But it is likely Rugby League Professionals Association boss Matt Rodwell will be pushing hard for a higher increase, particularly after Monday's ceasefire between ClubsNSW and the state government over poker machine taxation.

While the NRL wouldn't reveal any financial details from Tuesday's meeting, it is understood the clubs agreed to a cap increase next season of about $140,000, with a small percentage increase each year for the life of the CBA.

Prior to the meeting, club CEOs were split over whether to back a small increase in the salary cap, with many concerned about the impact of proposed changes to pokies taxation to their bottom line.

But the agreement, which will allow clubs to claw back $400 million more than expected over a seven-year period, has led several clubs to reconsider their stance on the issue.

"It's good to see the clubs supporting the cap increase we proposed today," said NRL chief executive David Gallop.

"The clubs made it clear that we have to be careful, that there are financial constraints on their operations, but in the context of the game's general health, we can afford a salary cap increase on an annual basis.

"Hopefully we can continue in an atmosphere that promotes an understanding of the realities the game faces."

Newcastle CEO Ken Conway, who sent the club's financial controller to the meeting said: "Our general position is that we are not against a rise in the salary cap as long as they are matched by rises in grants."

Manly CEO Pat Wilson said he was happy with the outcome of Tuesday's talks with the NRL.

"We talked about the issue of affordability, that's the key message," he said.

"We are confident the NRL will progress it forward with that position in mind.

"There is scope for an increase but it has to be in line with what the game can afford."

Sharks counterpart Greg Pierce said he was in favour of a small increase.

"The clubs are pretty united about what they want to do, which is the main thing," he said after the meeting.

"I've got no dramas with the players getting what they can, but it can't be to the detriment of the clubs.

"I think the NRL was very reasonable in what they were proposing."

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