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Volume 6 No. 213
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National Rugby League Boss Dave Smith Wants Power To Break Salary Cap

Australia's National Rugby League "is considering a proposal" which would give CEO Dave Smith "sole discretion to pay players outside the salary cap and potentially decide where they play," according to Brent Read of THE AUSTRALIAN. The proposal "was discussed last week" at a meeting of CEOs in Auckland, where clubs "were taken through plans to overhaul the salary cap from next season." Consultant Andrew Fraser, who has been brought in by the NRL to lead the review of the cap, "outlined a plan that would result in Smith being able to hand-pick players to be paid from the central body’s cash reserves." The plan "would also give Smith the power to shift those players to the club of his choice, although there were suggestions the players might be put up for auction and sent to the highest bidder." The proposal "was met with resistance" from some CEOs, who "fear the concept could be used by player managers to distort the market" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/20).

PLAYER SAFETY: In Sydney, Adrian Proszenko reported the NRL "has aborted plans to introduce independent doctors to monitor game-day concussions, believing club medicos are best qualified to determine player safety." The issue has been cast into the spotlight after a number of prominent NRL doctors "quit at the end of last season over concerns team success was placed before player welfare" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 2/20).

SHARKS APPEAL: The AAP reported interim Cronulla Sharks coach Peter Sharp "has urged the NRL to make a decision" on Cronulla's appeal against head coach Shane Flanagan's 12-month ban as the new season looms. Flanagan was suspended by the NRL for 12 months, and the club fined A$1M ($900,000) "as part of a probe into governance issues surrounding its supplements program run by former strength and conditioning coach Trent Elkin in 2011" (AAP, 2/19).

DOPING INVESTIGATION: Also in Sydney, Proszenko reported the NRL players' association hopes the resignation of Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority CEO Aurora Andruska "won't slow the investigation process in the supplements saga," saying affected players are under ''extraordinary physical and psychological strain." In a statement, the NRL said, "The NRL is determined to resolve these matters as soon as possible while limiting the risk of legal action and further delay" (SMH, 2/20).