Melbourne Storm legend Billy Slater has hit clubs whose star talent is consistently robbed with a cutting reality check.
Two-time Clive Churchill Medal winner Billy Slater says the NRL must start rewarding clubs for developing their own star talent, but he hasn’t stopped short of delivering a cutting reality check.
The former champion fullback says clubs like the Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm aren’t consistently robbed of red-hot talent because they’ve established organisations in which players “want to stay”. Both the Roosters and Storm have long been renowned for their tremendous success and culture.
Slater’s blunt words for clubs consistently stripped of gun footballers have come in the wake of an explosive Dave Donaghy press conference.
The new Broncos chief executive today blasted clubs that had recently poached some of their most tantalising talent.
“There’s the ability for vultures to swoop in and throw ridiculous amounts of money and steal your best talent,” Donaghy said.
Slater had stiff words for clubs like the Broncos when prompted for his view.
“I definitely think that the NRL needs to look into rewarding clubs that develop players. We need more talented players developed. There’s a lot of talent out there but it’s not developed. So we need to incentivise clubs to go out and develop those players,” Slater said on 2GB’s Wide World of Sports radio.
“Now, if you build a club like the Roosters, like the Melbourne Storm, that players want to go to, you don’t have to worry about players getting poached because players will want to stay at your club. We definitely need to incentivise our game, but at the same time, you need to build that place where people want to stay or go to build their career.”
The Broncos lost a once-in-a-generation forward in superstar second-rower David Fifita when he signed a three-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans reportedly worth $3.5 million in July last year.
The Maroons State of Origin enforcer played junior footy and Queensland Cup with Souths Logan Magpies, one of three Broncos feeder clubs.
That poaching was followed by the signing of the prodigious Reece Walsh, who played for Broncos feeder club the Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup but was swooped on by the New Zealand Warriors in April.
The 18-year-old, who signed a three-year deal reportedly worth $1.2 million, was brilliant on his NRL debut at fullback against Melbourne in round seven, before switching to five-eighth against the North Queensland Cowboys and again firing.
Rising playmaker Tom Dearden signed with the Cowboys last week, and off-contract young guns Kotoni Staggs and Xavier Coates are reportedly being targeted by other clubs, but none of those three were developed in a Broncos system before signing an NRL contract.
Slater says he doesn’t understand Donaghy’s indication that some clubs have more money in their salary cap than others, in the wake of Brisbane’s boss saying rivals “throw ridiculous amounts of money and steal your best talent”.
“I don’t get the ‘cashed-up’ side of it because everyone’s got the same amount to spend,” Slater said.
“They all get more than what they need in their grant from the NRL and everyone’s got the same amount to spend; it’s about managing your salary cap.”
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