NRL North Queensland Cowboys Offer Star Players Slice Of Salary Cap
National Ruby League club North Queensland Cowboys are ready to allocate each of their off-contract stars "a percentage of the salary cap" as they look to juggle the retention of their best players "with ongoing uncertainty over what the future holds for player payments," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. Cowboys CEO Peter Jourdain revealed the club "had opened talks with its slew of superstars" but had been forced to reassess the way it conducts negotiations. Among "the players coming off contract for the Cowboys are co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, and Australia front-rower James Tamou." While the clubs "are working on a cap of A$5M ($5.2M) for next season, that figure is yet to be ratified by the Rugby League Players Association, and it could be months before anything is finalised for next year, let alone beyond that." Faced with the prospect of "allowing their rivals to have a free shot at their best players -- others off contract include fullback Matt Bowen and centre Brent Tate -- the Cowboys opted to re-evaluate the way they do business." It means Thurston, Scott and Tamou "will be allocated a percentage of the salary cap should they agree to stay" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 11/1). In Sydney, Brad Walter reported that the Cowboys "are the club most affected, with 21 player off contract next season." The club "had hoped until details of the cap were confirmed before stepping up negotiations," but Jordain said that "this was no longer an option, and it had to become creative in its offers." Jordain said, "Clearly, that would have been better, but we can only deal with the situation we have got. There has been discussions with the players, and there is discussion with the managers happening, too, this week. We are … going to do it based on a percentage of the salary cap" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 11/1).