Gallop halts cap rebellion

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First Grader
THE National Rugby League has headed off a possible club revolt after asking the players' union to reverse a decision that would have resulted in the salary cap staying at $4million next season.

This month, the NRL told a players' forum it was ready to increase the salary cap in 2008 by $100,000 per club, as a result of a series of rich sponsorship deals.

That information was also passed on to the clubs, which were promised a corresponding $100,000 increase in the size of their grants to offset the salary cap lift.

However, the NRL left the final decision on what to do with the money to the Rugby League Professionals Association, which decided last week that the extra money would be better placed in the retirement fund.

That meant it would have been unable to be used by clubs to pay players next year.

In effect, it would have meant the salary cap staying at $4million.

The decision prompted a backlash from clubs, who are attempting to retain and recruit players.

Nearly all had budgeted on the salary cap being $4.1m next year.

NRL chief executive David Gallop confirmed he had discussed the issue with RLPA chief executive Matt Rodwell and, as a result, the players' union is expected to ratify the money being included in the salary cap.

"The clubs have made it clear that they would prefer the money go on the cap," Gallop said.

"My understanding is Matt has taken that on board and he will discuss it with his board this week."

It is understood the RLPA has a board meeting scheduled for today.

Several chief executives said yesterday they were shocked the RLPA had elected to put the extra money towards the retirement fund rather than the cap.

The Sharks' Greg Pierce is in a crucial stage of negotiations with several players including halves Brett Kimmorley and Adam Dykes.

It is understood Kimmorley received a significant offer yesterday from a rival club, however his manager George Mimis would not confirm an offer had been received.

"We got an email last week saying it was going to the retirement fund," Pierce said.

"If we had it to spend, it could make the difference between what we could offer Dykes and Kimmorley."

Manly chief executive Grant Mayer spoke to Mimis yesterday over the futures of Anthony Watmough and Travis Burns.

Burns is also in talks with North Queensland, which has targeted the young halfback as a long-term replacement for Jason Smith.

"It's about retaining players," Mayer said. "When $100,000 is directed (to the cap) in an open forum and in one fell swoop removed, there will be impacts on your planning. Players like Watmough are a classic example."

Melbourne chief executive Brian Waldron said the decision to place the money in the retirement fund was admirable, but he endorsed the decision to ask the RLPA to rethink its stance.

"The reality is there is enormous pressure on the salary cap," Waldron said.

"People would have been doing their numbers with the $100,000 as part of next year's cap."

The Cowboys aren't the only club chasing Burns, with Gold Coast and Brisbane also keen.

Burns, who has spent recent weeks playing off the interchange bench, met North Queensland chief executive Peter Parr yesterday.

Burns wants to play in the halves but his path is blocked by Matt Orford and Jamie Lyon at Manly.

"There's a fair bit of interest out there from other clubs and Manly," Burns said.

"Manly want to retain me; they have been good for me.

"I have played nowhere but the halves my whole life. With my rookie year last year I played every game at six. I want to play in the halves.

"I don't like sitting on the bench and watching."

South Sydney yesterday extended the contracts of Yileen Gordon (two years) and Fetuli Talanoa and Eddie Paea, both by one year.

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