Kangaroos stars Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and James Tamou are to be offered a percentage of the North Queensland Cowboys’ salary cap in their next contracts due to the uncertainty about how high it will be.
The trio are among 230 NRL players off contract at the end of next season. They are free to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1.
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A salary cap of $5 million has been set for next season but the NRL and the Rugby League Players’ Association are yet to agree on the terms of a collective bargain agreement, and will continue talks on Thursday.
The Cowboys are the club most affected, with 21 players off contract next season. They are headed by Thurston, who is expected to attract interest from St George Illawarra Dragon, Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Gold Coast Titans.
Scott and Tamou, the Australian front-rowers, will also be in high demand. Other North Queensland players unsigned beyond next season include Brent Tate, Robert Lui, Ashley Graham, Kane Linnett, Dallas Johnson, Glenn Hall and Matt Bowen.