SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 14: Aaron Woods of the Sea Eagles warms up during the round seven NRL match between Manly Sea Eagles and Melbourne Storm at 4 Pines Park on April 14, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Manly Sea Eagles veteran forward Aaron Woods has raised a concern about the possible financial incentive on the table for players in other codes to switch to the NRL.

It came to light through a report late last week that the Sydney Roosters could be chasing Wallabies star Mark Nawaqanitawase, with The Sydney Morning Herald then reporting that the Australian Rugby League Commission were considering salary cap exemptions.

It's something that has been floated as a potential option since as early as April, but now appears to be picking up steam as the NRL look to hit back at Rugby Australia for their poaching of Joseph Suaalii and chase of others on a list that has included Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Will Penisini and Nelson Asofa-Solomona, as well as Angus Crichton who now seems unlikely to switch to the 15-man game.

NRL CEO Andrew Abdo said it wasn't about hitting back, but that other code players could improve the NRL as a product.

"If we can come up with good incentives for us to attract athletes from other codes, the commission have said they are willing to look at that and that's exciting for us," Abdo said per Channel 9 News.

"We are focused on our sport and making it the best possible experience not just for fans, but for players as well."

It's understood the ARLC could have a policy drafted as soon as next month, but speaking on Triple M Radio, Woods said it was important that it wasn't just the big clubs who could benefit from the policy.

"I just think it's a hard one, because what if we say the Roosters get an extra million dollars cap to sign the Waratahs' fullback," Woods said on Triple M.

"The NRL should step in and put it in one of the bottom eight sides to make the competition a lot fairer."


  1. The cap was introduced for two purposes: to stop wealthy clubs buying up all the talent, and to prevent poor clubs from bankrupting themselves trying to compete with the wealthy.

    The “code change” incentive violates both those aims.

    Aaron Woods’ idea – of making the incentive available only to bottom eight clubs – is imaginative, but still violates the second aim.

    We would need to see more details on how the scheme will work, but it sounds like it will make roster management a lot more difficult.

    eg a club buys the All Blacks fullback for a million a year for three years. Do years 2 and 3 have to be accounted for under the cap, or is he permanently outside the cap?

    eg if the concession is available only to bottom-eight clubs, what happens if the club is successful and makes to top eight? Will the players wages have to be accounted for under the cap from that point? What happens is the club – literally – cannot fit him in because of existing contracts for other players?

    It sounds potentially nasty, and until we have seen the details, we should not go over-the-top supporting the concept.

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