Last week the NRL took the decision to allow the Raiders salary cap concessions to help them replace the injured Jordan Rapana, short-term, for the early rounds of the 2019 season.
For those who missed it, superstar winger Jordan Rapana was injured while representing the New Zealand national side in England during the NRL off-season.
The injury will rule him out for at least the opening ten rounds of the season with a return date of between round 11 and 14 looking likely.
The cap concession has come about, ironically, due to the new “Josh Hodgson” rule, that was brought in after the fellow Raider was injured playing for England last year.
One of the lesser known rules due to it’s being so new and not yet being enacted allows clubs up to $350,000 in salary cap relief if a rep player is injured for 12 weeks or more while playing Origin or International football.
Truthfully I’d heard the rule mentioned after Hodgson went down injured but I didn’t take too much notice of it.
Hodgson was, undoubtedly, the Raiders number one man heading into 2018. His injury set them back massively. They may have played finals footy if he had played more games in 2018.
His injury made a huge impact, ultimately for the positive.
Player welfare is the most important part of our game. Rapana’s injury is horrible for Raiders fans, but there’s no chance the Kiwis could have named a side without their best winger.
His being injured playing for the Kiwi international side has again hurt the Raiders.
That said, FINALLY, a common sense ruling has been made.
The Raiders are now allowed a fair amount of money to recruit a winger to replace Rapana.
Sure, no one available at this stage, especially at $350,000 can come close to the impact of Jordan Rapana, but it’s better than nothing.
They can now go out and pick up a handy wing replacement and focus on Rapana’s rehab.
For those unaware of the rule, they can only recruit a winger. They can’t go out and offer the likes of Shaun Johnson (if he were still available) a contract using that salary cap relief. It’s a straight swap for Rapana.
At first I didn’t like the rule based on all of the teams who have missed out in the past.
The Raiders last year. How many games did Paul Gallen miss through injury playing 80 minutes at prop for the Blues?
That said, I soon realised how ridiculous my line of thinking was. This was a chance to fix a former problem and ensure it isn’t for the future.
Injuries are unfortunately a part of our game. Players can be injured at training, walking to the field, or playing with their kids. It has literally happened.
That said, rep footy is the hardest form of our game. The elite or the elite come together to form super teams with national pride on the line.
The risk of injury increased massively. Serious injury too, unfortunately.
Rapana is far less likely to suffer that shoulder injury if he were sitting at home in Canberra with his feet up rather than marking up against a fired up English side.
The salary cap relief allows one less headache while Rapana rehabs.
Ricky Stuart can find a pretty handy replacement and start his preparations for the early rounds, knowing a fully fit Rapana will be back three months in.
Hardly ideal but it’s better than having a superstar, huge money winger sitting on the sideline and being forced to pick a NSW Cup winger who isn’t ready to step up to the top level.
Although there are rules in play to make it very difficult and theoretically impossible, you could hardly be filthy on the Raiders not wanting their players to represent their countries.
They lost Hodgson, literally their best player, and now Rapana.
Why should the Raiders want their players to go off and get bashed playing top level footy only to miss a mountain of footy for the club that pays their wages?
Sure, the rep footy payments are big and no player would want to miss them, or the chance to play for their state or nation, but if the Raiders are paying Rapana 650k, they should feel aggrieved.
Again, this new rule doesn’t make it perfect, but it doesn’t hurt.
What does everyone make of the rule? Were the NRL right to enact it for the Raiders and Rapana?
For mine it’s a common sense ruling and a good one.