Victims of the salary By David Riccio
August 19, 2007 12:00am
MORE than 30 NRL-proven players could be forced out of the game, with some players still without a club and considered washed up at 28.
Just 15 days out from the completion of this year's minor premiership, The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered a worrying list of players whose days in the NRL appear numbered.
Discarded Knights forward Kirk Reynoldson said this week: "There is nothing out there. It's too late.''
But the 28-year-old is not alone. Players off contract and overlooked during the mid-season sales include Luke Williamson, Chris Walker, Adam Perry, Cameron Phelps, Trent Cutler and Justin Smith.
Phelps, who has excelled on the wing for the Bulldogs in recent weeks, fears his career could come to a premature end at the tender age of 22.
"I still hold out some hope that they've (Bulldogs) got some money left to sign me .. . but nothing is eventuating,'' Phelps said.
"I don't want to go down that track, but I might have to go to uni or get a job somewhere. I just want to know what's happening and whether I have to get a job next year or not. You try to play your best footy but, then again, it may not eventuate to anything.''
Manly lock Luke Williamson, 28, has been offered no guarantee he will be playing rugby league next season after a deal with UK Super League club Les Catalans fell through, despite the Sea Eagles giving their approval for him to negotiate elsewhere.
"We're happy to talk to him but it's so late in the day, I'm just not sure what we can do,'' Sea Eagles chief executive Grant Mayer explained.
After celebrating the re-signing of fellow forwards Brent Kite, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart and Glen Hall, Mayer pointed the blame for Williamson's predicament at the salary cap.
"I hate it when people come out and say it's the salary cap,but the reality is that thereare choices to be made,'' Mayer said.
"We've got to look at our future of two, three and four years in advance and that is a salary-cap issue.
"And Luke, at this stage, is probably a year-to-year proposition. We haven't closed the door but it's just a difficult juggling act.''
Asked what impact the uncertainty was having on Williamson, Mayer said: "I think a lot of the players understand now that every year there are a lot of players that are squeezed out because of the structure of the competition.
"We intend to sit down with his manager over the next week and keep the dialogue ticking over.''
Players' association boss Matthew Rodwell played down suggestions an increase in the salary cap would provide a lifeline for players like Williamson and Reynoldson.
"If the cap was lifted we'd be still in the same situation because that would have to pay everyone's wage,'' Rodwell said.
"You'd still be trying to squeeze those players into the 25 no matter how high the salary cap was.''