Jason Demetriou, who coaches the Rabbitohs, proposed the idea of introducing maximum salary amounts for young players to prevent clubs from luring away top prospects with big offers. This comes as a response to teams like the Roosters offering lucrative deals to players like Joseph Suaalii. However, the likelihood of the NRL adopting such a system is low, as it could discourage young athletes from choosing rugby league or reduce their earning potential.
Many NRL clubs invest heavily in developing their junior bases to create a pathway of players into the elite level. However, talent often gets poached by other teams. Demetriou has suggested that the NRL institute a rule where younger players can only earn a certain amount until they reach a certain milestone. For example, players aged under 21 could earn a maximum of $200,000 per season until they have played 20 games, then more once they hit the 50-match mark.
He believes that this system would protect young players from facing excessive pressure and expectations due to their potential. He cited the example of former Titans halfback Ash Taylor, who had high expectations on him at a young age due to a multimillion-dollar deal.
Demetriou also advocated for more investment in state cups rather than a national reserve grade competition. He also believes there should be two transfer windows as part of the NRL’s player movement process.
Furthermore, he referenced the rules enforced by the NBA, which has set amounts for players on their rookie contracts. Unlike the NBA, the NRL is in competition with similar sports such as rugby union, soccer, Australian rules, and cricket for teen prodigies. Therefore, implementing a system like that of the NBA may not be as straightforward in the NRL.