Which star NRL players deserve million-dollar contracts?
Which star NRL players deserve million-dollar contracts?

Monday Buzz: Who deserves to be a millionaire?

The NRL is facing a wage explosion at the top end of the market that the game cannot afford.

Knights and Maroons star Kalyn Ponga is not worth the $1.5 million his agent is chasing.

No player in the NRL is worth that amount of money, not even James Tedesco or Cameron Smith.

Not for a game played only on the eastern seaboard, New Zealand and a small part of the UK.

Ben Hunt is not worth $1.2 million and Ash Taylor is not worth $1 million.

The same can be said of Anthony Milford at the Brisbane Broncos.

Penrith's Nathan Cleary is nowhere near a $1 million halfback.

And Kieran Foran, who has had a shocking run with injuries, is no longer a $1 million player.

There are probably only four genuine million-dollar players in the competition - Smith, Tedesco, Jason Taumalolo and Roger ­Tuivasa-Sheck.

You could nearly throw in Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk, and you would add Sam Burgess if he wasn't so undisciplined and missing from so many games.

The topic of high-end salaries is up for discussion again in light of Ponga's agent Wade Rushton putting a $6 million, four-year proposal to Knights boss Phil Gardner.

This is outrageous money.

Ponga will more than likely become the best player in the NRL. He is the most exciting young footballer we've seen since the likes of Laurie Daley and Brad Fittler burst on to the scene.

But right now he is playing more like an $800,000-a-year player.

 

Kalyn Ponga is the NRL’s most exciting player in years. Picture: AAP
Kalyn Ponga is the NRL’s most exciting player in years. Picture: AAP

 

Anyone who watched his game against the Parramatta Eels on Saturday evening would have to agree. He deserves an upgrade from his current deal but nowhere near what his agent wants.

Manly are facing big calls with the Trbojevic brothers, Tom and Jake.

They already have Cherry-Evans on $1 million plus.

To have three players soak up more than a third of the salary cap raises concerns about the quality of the remainder of the roster.

There is an interesting example in the NFL.

Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, has won six Super Bowls but is nowhere near the ­highest-paid player in America.

 

Manly faces a big call with Tom Trbojevic, pictured, and his brother Jake. Picture: Getty Images
Manly faces a big call with Tom Trbojevic, pictured, and his brother Jake. Picture: Getty Images

 

He earns $23 million but the highest-paid player, Russell Wilson, is on $35 million.

Brady has always taken "unders" in the knowledge the Patriots need great players around him to win Super Bowls. If he'd demanded the $35 million, he would have lost the wonderful support players.

We reported over the weekend about salary cap problems at the Cronulla Sharks. They have too many top-end contracts taken up by underperforming players.

Andrew Fifita, Josh Dugan, Matt Moylan and Shaun Johnson have not justified their $800,000-plus contracts.

The Roosters have centre Latrell Mitchell coming off contract next year. His manager wants $1 million.

He could probably get that much money at the Canterbury Bulldogs or another club, but is he worth it?

It's an issue every clubs needs to think about.

 

 

MILLION DOLLAR MAYBES

WORTH $1 MILLION

Cameron Smith

James Tedesco

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Jason Taumalolo

Cameron Munster

Daly Cherry-Evans

Sam Burgess

Kalyn Ponga

Cooper Cronk

NOT WORTH $1 MILLION

Ash Taylor

Nathan Cleary

Anthony Milford

Ben Hunt

Kieran Foran

 

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the charge for the Warriors. Picture: Getty Images
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on the charge for the Warriors. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

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Live stream the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership on KAYO SPORTS. Every game of every round live & anytime on your TV or favourite device. Get your 14 day free trial.