Fawning over Folau, salary cap in hand, undermines League's achievements

Laughing all the way to the bank ... but the NRL was right not to bend the salary cap rules to secure Israel Folau's return to league.
Laughing all the way to the bank ... but the NRL was right not to bend the salary cap rules to secure Israel Folau's return to league.

Discord is sick of hearing about how rugby league "bungled" the return of Israel Folau.

Why is the sport so insecure that its athletes become more important to followers after they leave?

From all accounts, Folau was no better than a fair Australian Rules player. Shouldn't his stocks in our game have slumped in his absence, not risen to the point where rules should be bent to get him back?

There are many of you who don't believe the salary cap is responsible for the NRL having crowned nine different premiers in 15 years. I don't agree with you. I think it is easily the biggest contributing factor to that parity, which is an even more remarkable achievement in the absence of a draft.

The salary cap is rugby league's most successful construct. Stripping two premierships from the Storm because they cheated it only makes it stronger and more influential – there is now an even greater deterrent to breaking it.

The salary cap is more important than any individual – including Israel Folau and Sonny Bill Williams. As Adrian Morley writes in his new biography, the evenness of the NRL is a rarity in world sport. Its rarity makes it precious.

Sure, it would have been nice if the salary cap increase had been introduced before Folau decided to go to rugby union. But I don't think the ARL Commission should give a tinker's cuss about the plans of an individual player. Nor should the commissioners care about what I write in this column.

They are there to do what is in the interests of the game, and they are there to do it when it can be accomplished without complications.

It's a matter for Israel Folau to wait around for them to do it or to go and do something else. That's what he's done and good luck to him.

This tendency to fawn over those who leave rugby league and beg them to come back is unseemly and even a little pathetic.


Former Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe was made and MBE and Graham Lowe – who's done just about everything in the game – was afforded the New Zealand Order Of Merit.


Terrible news for the talented Ben Jones-Bishop at Leeds: he's out for six months due a scary blood clot affecting his lungs. Will Australian trialist Joe Vickery get a start in the World Club Challenge against Melbourne?


Expect Japan to tour Australia in the pre-season, with a Test in Sydney against Portugal and an appearance at the Cabramatta Nines.


To comments now and RottenRonnie is like many of you – he wants the scrum to be a contest again. Sorry Ronnie, I can't see the point. All those penalties and repacked scrums and even potential injury for a generation of forwards who'd never had to push? For what? The purpose of the scrum in rugby league is to keep six defensive players out of the action and open things up for the attacking team. Now, if you give the attacking team an extra attacker – like they did on Boxing Day when they trialled some experimental rules – you are taking things a step further.

Sure, the scrum is a joke. But to allow the side with five players to beat the team with six is to laugh, loudly, at it.

Dave wanted more repercussions for players taking dives. The refs, Dave, have one answer for that – "we're not doctors". Hard to police in soccer; hard to police in any sport.

Sandbunny wants the State of Origin champions to play New Zealand each year. But I think there would be a genuine fear that it would take a lot of sheen off Tests. If Queensland beats New Zealand one week, how would any NSW players get into the Australian team the next week? And who would watch? If the Kiwis lost to an Australian state, it would be just embarrassing.

And with the Warriors, you could hardly have it as NZ Residents. It would just be the Warriors side.

This story Fawning over Folau, salary cap in hand, undermines League's achievements first appeared on WA Today.