Who is Paying Beau Champion?

Filed in Other by on January 29, 2011

The sorry and protracted Greg Inglis saga has finally reached conclusion, ending in a manner most predictable with the former Storm star set to wear the cardinal and myrtle of South Sydney in 2011.

Greg Inglis finally put pen to paper with South Sydney some four months after announcing he would not play for the Storm in 2011 and two months after reneging on an agreement to play for Brisbane. After being pushed to South Sydney by Anthony Mundine and ably lured by Russell Crowe, Inglis was held up as the Bunnies star signing for 2011 with Crowe even going on late night US television to boast of the coup.

The NRL refused to register the contract of Inglis, however, with auditor Ian Schubert unhappy with the figure Souths were paying Inglis and untrusting of the alleged third party dealings struck. South Sydney had used up all their cap space and had little room to manoeuvre. Rumours circulated that Inglis could end up at Parramatta but it was soon made clear that Inglis was a Rabbitoh and players would be allowed to leave the Redfern club to make room for the Queensland and Australian centre.

Only one player left with the likes of Roy Asotasi and Michael Crocker never going to get better deals than what they are on at present. That player turned out to be hard running centre Beau Champion, coming off his finest season in first grade where he scored 14 tries. The Storm have almost certainly got the better of this stick with Champion sure to excel under Craig Bellamy while Greg Inglis is sure to continue eating under John Lang.

Champion agreed to terms with the Melbourne Storm, signing a three-year deal reportedly worth $600,000.

The Greg Inglis deal is presumably worth significantly more as the NRL refused to register the original South Sydney contract which had Inglis valued at $190,000.

The mathematics on this simply does not add up.

The Storm, after the scandal that rocked the club in 2010, had to cull a significant portion of pricey talent just to get back onto legal ground, having to fill out their roster with minimum-contract players in order to get a team together for the 2011 season. They certainly appeared to have no wiggle room. If they did, they presumably would have kept a Ryan Hoffman, a Brett Finch or even a Greg Inglis.

South Sydney, meanwhile, had no room under the cap and were duly told by the NRL that the only way Greg Inglis would fit under the cap is if other players moved on.

How can two clubs both at the threshold of their salary cap afford to pay Greg Inglis and Beau Champion? Greg Inglis has presumably taken the rest of the room South Sydney had left so who where is the money for Beau Champion coming from?

South Sydneyspent their cash. The Melbourne Storm have no room. Yet Greg Inglis is now at Souths and Beau Champion at the Storm.

No reasonable explanation has been proffered by the NRL.

The NRL has done the right thing by ensuring the Greg Inglis deal was not simply rubber stamped because he is of superstar status. The NRL has done the right thing by forcing South Sydney to shed players in order to fit Inglis in. The NRL has done the right thing by coming down hard on the Melbourne Storm. The NRL has done the right thing by maintaining parity in the competition through the strict enforcement of a hard salary cap.

What the NRL has not done is properly account for the salary of Beau Champion. One of Melbourne or South Sydney is paying the promising centre, his deal is worth $600,000 over three years and both teams were right at the cap before Champion was signed. Relaxation was seemingly offered and accepted somewhere along the line.

This is but the latest example of the murkiness that comes with the salary cap. Players salaries are guessed, clubs who claim to be at the limit magically come up with space, rumours abound that clubs systematically cheat and virtually no transparency exists.

With the Independent Commission soon to be formed, it is imperative that a more transparent salary cap system be implemented as a matter of priority. The image of the code is heavily reliant.

Two options exist.

First, the NRL could move to a centrally organised ratings based system combined with a dollar cap that would protect clubs from themselves. Players would be assigned a salary cap figure objectively based on both recent performance and career achievements with in-built discounts for long-serving players and local juniors. Clubs would be able to accumulate a limited number of ratings points with each player’s cap figure publicly known to ensure everyone from the NRL to the everyday fan can see where a club is at with the salary cap.

Second, the NRL could negotiate a system with the players association where players contracts become a matter of public domain on an open register. There will be typical cries of outrage over privacy issues by the players but with the influx of money set to feed down to the players after the next television deal is negotiated and a new collective bargaining agreement in the works, the NRL has the upper hand. This is the norm in sports in the United States, a country steeped in a tradition of individualism and personal privacy. This system would give fans a greater insight into the game while also shining sunlight on much of the darkness where salary cap related skulduggery takes place.

Who is paying Beau Champion? Nobody knows. And it is about time we did. The NRL needs to take this opportunity to open up the salary cap process, rethink it, make it easier to understand and simpler to see so the whisper of salary cap deception is turned into a rugby league relic, along with the five-minute sin bin and the contested scrum.


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Comments (3)

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  1. The Ram Jam says:

    I think Modest Beau will be getting paid in Harvey Norman vouchers and boats Punt.

    Good job on the site. Looking forward to mixing it up with the Making The Nut team mate.

    • Cliff Bingham says:

      Agree with the point about Beau Champion under the tutelage of Bellamy and receiving good quality ball from Cooper Cronk possibly being a better bet than Inglis is, now that Greg is under the tutelage of John Lang and receiving poor quality ball from Chris Sandow.