SALARY CAP: Ballina fullback Alex Grant playing for the Seagulls in the NRRRL grand final in September.
SALARY CAP: Ballina fullback Alex Grant playing for the Seagulls in the NRRRL grand final in September. Ursula Bentley@CapturedAus

Push for even playing field in NRRRL

A NEW player points system will be enforced as a salary cap on clubs to encourage loyalty over money in Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League next season.

It will be introduced in the East Coast Region of Country Rugby League with each club allowed 2000 points for its 17-man squad each week.

The system aims for a more evenly matched competition and to discourage inflation on match payments while helping clubs who usually struggle to attract and retain players.

It will help reward clubs like Ballina and Marist Brothers who have strong junior bases while others like Casino and Kyogle will also benefit from the amount of home-grown talent they use.

Overseas imports and players who have represented at a higher level as far up as the NRL are allocated the most points.

However, the likes of Ballina fullback Alex Grant, who played in both the Queensland Cup and NRRRL last season, would not take up any points having already played more than three years at Ballina.

Incoming Byron Bay captain-coach Todd Carney could be the hardest hit with 600 points given for an NRL-level player.

He has not played NRL since 2014 but has had stints in the English Super League since which is deemed as the equivalent overseas competition.

New Ballina captain-coach Jamie Lyon is in a similar boat but will probably take out less points having been retired for two years.

"They haven't got back to us on how many points Todd will chew up but it won't be anywhere near the full amount,” NRRRL president Robin Harley said.

"We did a bit of testing this season and the only club that went over was Cudgen when they had 2100 points in the semi-final against Murwillumbah.

"The two grand final teams (Ballina and Tweed Coast) weren't anywhere near it so I don't think we'll have too many problems.”

The system has also been introduced in Group 2 and Group 3 with an allocation of 1500 points.

Former NRL player Danny Wicks would not attract any points if he plays for Grafton Ghosts again having been there as a junior and the last two seasons in first grade.

Harley said clubs will have to be careful and manage them teams closely each week to avoid fines and loss of points from going over the cap.

"They will have to keep an eye on it and we would hate to penalise a club who inadvertently goes over,” he said.

Point levels

0 points: Local player (must have played with affiliated junior club, and/or senior player for three years)

100pts: Imported from under-18s (from another Country Rugby League competition)

200pts: Imported player from first grade (inside East Coast region) and/or non-Australian citizen.

300pts: Group representative, junior representative or international player (plays in similar league overseas).

400pts: NYC or Jersey Flegg, country under-23s rep, emerging nations or tier 2 state league player (or equivalent).

500pts: NSW residents rep.

600pts: NRL-level player (or equivalent).

800pts: State of Origin or international rep player.