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SBD Global/November 27, 2012/Franchises

Eels' Interest In Israel Folau Looks To Be In Vain, Rabbitohs Keen To Swoop In

Reaction to National Rugby League club Parramatta Eel's "bold plan to circumvent the A$5M ($5.2M) salary cap next season to accommodate Israel Folau was predictable but emphatic: the Eels' rivals would only welcome such a move if they were afforded the same concessions," according to Glenn Jackson of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Additionally, some felt that the proposal -- to raise the Eels' payment ceiling by A$400,000 for next year but lower their cap by the same figure the following year -- "might encourage NRL stars to look outside the code if a precedent is set that rules would be bent to allow a code-jumper back." The Eels' plan "appears doomed." Melbourne Storm CEO Ron Gauci maintained the Australian Rugby League Commission would be opening up a "can of worms" by allowing the move. Other CEOs maintained it would have to be "one-in, all-in." South Sydney Rabbitohs CEO Shane Richardson said, "Whatever rules apply for one club need to be applied for all clubs" (SMH, 11/27). In Sydney, Stuart Honeysett noted in '04 the NRL "facilitated talks with its sponsors" to help keep Andrew Johns away from rugby union, and in '10 St. George Illawarra was able to sign Mark Gasnier for only A$100,000 "as part of a massive back-ended deal." Yet, Parramatta's attempts to sign Folau at a cut-price rate next season "continue to be thwarted by the ARLC" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/27). Also in Sydney, Dean Ritchie reported the Rabbitohs "have expressed a private interest in signing Folau if the NRL cannot register the Eels deal." Sources close to Folau's management team said their clients were "open" to the idea of representing the club next season. The interest comes "despite his first preference being Parramatta" (TELEGRAPH, 11/27).
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