SOME of the NRL’s biggest names are set to reap the rewards of a possible $6 million salary cap when they come off contract next season.
With Luke Lewis and Brett Stewart the last of the big names still on the transfer market this year, clubs are already thinking ahead to 2013, when more than 180 players come off contract.
Among them are some of the game’s biggest stars, including Australian five-eighth Johnathan Thurston, NSW halves pairing of Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney, South Sydney’s Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess, Blues hooker Robbie Farah and Cowboys props Matt Scott and James Tamou.
Rival clubs are free to begin negotiations with those players from November 1, but some will resolve their futures before then, with negotiations already underway.
The key is the new broadcast deal, which is expected to be finalised either late August or September. If the ARL Commission can match the $1.2 billion deal the AFL secured last year for its television and internet rights, the salary cap is expected to rise to $6 million or more in 2014.
Clubs are operating on a salary cap of $4.3 million for this year but have been told to sign players for the 2013 season on the basis the cap will increase to aminimum of $5 million.
The rise has helped the likes of Manly to retain star five-eighth Keiran Foran, centre SteveMatai and hooker Matt Ballin, while upgrading the contract of halfback Daly Cherry-Evans. The additional money has also helped ease potential cap problems for a number of clubs caused by backended contracts.
NRL clubs have been told to anticipate the 2013 salary cap will be at least $5 million but not to spend much more than that.
Clubs were given a projection of future salary cap rises at last year’s conference of club chairmen and chief executives.
Depending on the new television deal, the salary cap would be increased to: _ $5.1 million (under a $1 billion TV deal); _ $5.9 million ($1.2 billion), or; _ $6.6 million ($1.4 billion).
One club chief executive yesterday predicted the salary cap would rise to between $5.5 million and $6 million if the tv deal was worth $1 billion.
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