If the NRL salary cap is meant to even out the competition, then grand finalists Manly seem capable of being more equal than others.
The Sea Eagles’ ability to consistently get the best out of their $4.3 million of talent has made them the kings of managing the cap – and the dominant force, legally, of the past decade.
Seven straight finals series, including three grand finals in the past five years, and the 2008 title are the evidence.
It’s why coach Des Hasler has been offered a reported $750,000 to join Canterbury and why recruitment manager Noel Cleal is also in the Bulldogs’ sights.
With the NRL’s talent spread so evenly, Hasler’s brilliance in motivating his side and Cleal’s ability to find talent have arguably been the difference.
Souths missed the top eight, Cherry-Evans was named Dally M rookie of the year and a Sea Eagles outfit few rated is in Sunday’s grand final against the Warriors.