Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson is certainly dropping Israel Folau’s name a lot. According to an article on NRL.com, in an interview with Triple M:
Robinson made the point of how important it is for rugby league to retain stars like SBW but also lure back its stars who are currently in other codes.
“Even I’m switching over and watching Israel Folau play; there’s a sense of pride, when he plays well as well, for every rugby league supporter,” Robinson said.
“We don’t want that to happen with Sonny – going to see him play another code. We want to keep them in our game. We need to keep them in our game.
“We’ve got a great product but we need players like that… and if we can, it would be great to have Israel Folau back as well. If we can get Israel back, we must.”
All Robbo is doing is making the case that the NRL should remove the red tape to allow players the calibre of SBW and Izzy Folau to play rugby league again.
(26 Rounds makes the case for the SBW-boxing debate in a blog post today, by the way.)
But it’s interesting to note he dropped Folau’s name three times in the space of five sentences. It further fuels the rumours that the Roosters will make a play for the new Wallabies back, who has been absolutely shredding the 15-man code after just a few months spent adapting to the nuances of the sport.
This is all purely speculation of course, and the rumours haven’t necessarily been borne from anything concrete. Already the Roosters have been linked to every single big name in the game and others, including soon-to-be-Warrior Sam Tomkins earlier this season, and as is custom, another big name has been linked to the rich Bondi club.
But allow this writer to entertain this thought for just a moment by asking a question and answering it:
Would the Roosters even be able to make this happen under the salary cap?
(Please note: The following is ALL an exercise in pure fantasy at this point. Anything said in this does not condone the shopping of a player or re-signing of another or confirm anything, really.)
The Roosters were rumoured to have shopped Shaun Kenny-Dowall — or that he was keen to get out of his contract. Off contract at the end of this season are Frank-Paul Nu’uasala, whom the Warriors and Eels are chasing; Luke O’Donnell, who is 32; Captain Anthony Minichiello; and Nafe Seluini.
Also off contract are youngsters Dylan Napa and Soni Langi but one would expect the Roosters to re-sign both those players, while a host of non-first-graders are also off contract.
If the Roosters shed SKD’s contract, they free up $350,000 a season. Let’s assume for speculation’s sake that someone swoops in and takes SKD, OK?
Mitchell Aubusson and Mitchell Pearce are both eligible for the eight-year long service player allowance, as pointed out by Johnny Tobin via Twitter here:
Therefore, a portion of their salaries will be exempt from the salary cap, creating an additional $200K in cap space (I think).
So with four players potentially coming off the books, an extra $200,000 created through veteran eligibility, and an increase in the salary cap from $5.85 million for the top 25 players at a club in 2013 to $6.3 million in 2014 — an increase of $450,000 — and the Roosters will certainly have the room to offer a very competitive package to Folau that even rugby could not match when you consider the Origin payments of $30,000 a match he would undoubtedly get.
Factoring in SKD’s $350,000, the Long Service allowance of $200,000 and the salary cap increase of $450,000 and the Roosters could potentially offer Izzy a starting package of $1 million a season — and this does not even factor in the potential losses of FPN, Mini and LOD, whose money could be used to top up another one-year deal for Sonny Bill without coming close to touching the salary cap.
It also doesn’t factor in the marquee player allowance, which could bump the salary up an extra $300,000.
It’s a package that even clubs with plenty of cap space, such as Parramatta, could not match, as Folau would walk into a winning club, his preferred centre position and a welcoming culture led by a player’s coach.
Again, this is all speculation, and nothing mentioned in this post has been mentioned to this writer. He merely writes this post to determine if an offer is even possible.
The speculation, however, will continue to mount as the season progresses and as Folau continues to tear up the Gilbert for the Waratahs. And the mention of Folau’s name repeatedly during the Triple M interview is very interesting: interesting enough that several readers have emailed wondering the same things this writer has.
At the very least it’s food for thought, no?