Super League clubs allowed third marquee player from next season under new salary cap rules

The new salary cap rules are to help protect against a player drain to the NRL.
St Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty ImagesSt Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images
St Helens’ Jack Welsby in action for England. Image: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Super League clubs will be given the chance to add an additional marquee player to their squads from next season under salary cap changes approved by the Rugby Football League.

Clubs can now add a third big-name – those who assume a greater proportion of the cap – on condition they have come through the ranks in the UK, in a bid to give clubs a bigger chance to hold onto their stars.

While the cap itself will stay at £2.1 million for the fifth consecutive year, RFL have been keen to balance financial sustainability with a way to lessen the drain of top talent to Australia’s relatively lucrative NRL.

Wigan’s Kai Pearce-Paul, Huddersfield’s Will Pryce and Wakefield’s Louis Murphy are the latest English players to sign deals to move Down Under next season.

Robert Hicks, the RFL’s director of operations and legal, said: “Financial sustainability remains imperative, for the credibility of the Super League competition and of Rugby League as a sport.

“We must also recognise the need for Super League to remain an elite and attractive competition, nationally and internationally.

“That is challenging, as while we welcome the growing strength of the NRL – and the NRLW – as good news for the sport of Rugby League, it can only increase the lure of a move to the southern hemisphere for our leading players.”

Previously, marquee players counted as £150,000 on a club’s salary sheets, with the exception of club-trained players who counted as £50,000.

Under the new rule, marquee players who have come through at their own club – for example, St Helens full-back Jack Welsby – will count as £50,000 in the cap, whereas one who came through at a different UK club, like Warrington captain George Williams, who started off at Wigan – will count as £100,000.