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A sensible conclusion to the Greg Inglis salary cap situation

So South Sydney get a million bucks in salary cap relief following Greg Inglis’ retirement? Sounds about right.
Following the former Queensland skipper’s resignation in April, discussion turned – a little too quickly – from a celebration of one of the all-time great careers to what was going to happen with the Rabbitohs’ salary cap.
Essentially, Inglis was on a deal worth a total of around $2 million for 2019 and 2020, and the Bunnies wanted to have the unpaid amount excluded from their cap.
Now, the ‘unpaid amount’ is an important aspect here, because the rugby league year runs from November 1 to October 31, meaning Inglis had already been paid close to half of this year’s wages.
As a result, the Bunnies would receive about $1.5 million in relief, which had the other clubs in quite the lather – understandably so.
Essentially, the argument went, by Inglis deciding he’d had enough – rather than being forced into retirement by injury – Souths were massively back-ending his deal. His contract was effectively $2 million for six months, becoming a $4 million salary pro rata, which equates to almost half the entire annual cap.
Who’s to say there hadn’t been some wheeling and dealing the last time Inglis had signed on with Souths, with an agreement being reached that he’d be paid x million dollars, but on an understanding he’d hang up the boots midway through, significantly bumping the annual worth.
That was the argument, anyway.
Of course, it was sorta blown away when it was announced that Inglis would forfeit this seven-figure sum so as not to hamstring the club in their future recruitment and retention efforts.
Can’t argue that a deal was cut to make Inglis rich without playing if he wasn’t going to take the money.
Instead, GI would take up an off-field role at Redfern – which is not only fairly common for recently retired players, but kind of a no-brainer when the player you’re talking about is a true ornament of the game.
He may have hung up the boots, but GI has so much more to give rugby league (if he wants to, of course, he doesn’t owe the game anything). I’d have been far more suspicious if the top brass at Souths had simply let such a huge superstar go.
He’s a legendary figure, particularly in the Indigenous community, with 15 seasons of experience – including one of the greatest representatives careers ever – to share.
That he would continue at the club, earning a decent paycheque for his efforts, is more than reasonable.
The only real question is just how ‘decent’ that paycheque would be – because, again, if he was going to get a million bucks for a part-time gig, well, we’re back at square one.
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Which is why the NRL decided that his earnings in this role for this year will be part of Souths’ cap, while they will make a decision on how much to include in next season’s cap based on the job’s market value.
If it is determined his gig is worth $200,000 and he’s getting paid $300,000, the club will have to wear that extra 100K in the 2020 cap. If, however, he’s paid $200,000, nothing comes out of the 2020 cap.
The net result is that Souths come out of this whole situation with $1 million in relief – reportedly $300K for this year, with the rest (and maybe a little more) to spend in 2020.
As for the price they pay? They no longer have Greg Inglis in their team.
And that seems to keep being missed in all this hoopla – the club doesn’t get a million dollars for free, they lose the services of one of the most destructive players in the game.
As I argued a few days before his retirement, “Greg Inglis at 90 per cent is still devastating.”
He may have been in the autumn years of his career, but he showed us all in his final Origin campaign that few could match it with him when he turned it on.
The sum of it is that Inglis has decent career prospects in retirement, Souths get a bit of relief in order to replace one of the premier players in the NRL and a precedent has been set for when a situation like this inevitably arises in the future.
It’s a sensible, equitable outcome – a rare case in rugby league where there are no losers.
Unless Latrell Mitchell joins Souths. Then there’ll be hell to pay.