CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 08: Jordan Rapana of the Raiders is congratulated after scoring during the round 14 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Penrith Panthers at GIO Stadium on June 8, 2018 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

7 COMMENTS

  1. I think it is a ridiculous rule.
    To say there is more chance of injury just because it is an international is a stretch.
    You have just as much chance of getting seriously injured in a standard NRL match as you would in an international. Maybe even more so due to the lack of high level players in the NRL.
    Rapana was picked to play for the Kiwi’s and excepted the invitation and the Raiders gave him their approval to play.
    Suffer the consequences of your actions Raiders like every other club has had to.
    Surely they have a player in reserves they can bring in without being gifted 350k to go out and buy a brand new player.

    • Call me bias, but I don’t care, I think the rule makes sense in that trying to grow the international game is very important and if clubs feel like there’s nothing they can do if they lose a star who is playing international football, they will not let them play. It makes sense

  2. I don’t fully understand the rule, but I thought the $350k was the max, to cover a full season, so the Raiders were only getting about half that, given Rapana will only be out for half the season?
    The other part I’m not sure about is, does the “replacement” player need to be dropped once the injured player is back? If that’s the case, surely that alone would make it very difficult to find a descent player?
    I’m all for getting some compensation for seriously injured players, when that player is injured playing rep footy, but I’m not sure we have a practical solution yet.

    • Like Kev and Mighty, I have reservations about this rule. I have no doubt that clubs will try and rort it, just like they have done to everything else the RL has ever tried to do that is in the best interests of the game. Like Mighty I don’t fully understand how it’s supposed to work, but for example, if a player a player is to be out for 12 weeks, what’s to stop a club, where the injured player is ready to play after about 9 weeks from saying he’ll still be out for another 6 weeks and therefore get an advantage. If you can only replace like-for-like, how would you replace a player like, like say Kurt Mann who basically plays off the bench and can play anywhere in the backline as well as at dummy half – that would really be open for rorting. My view? Injuries are just a hazard of the game, so the clubs just have to accept it and get on with it.

  3. I also have my reservations about this rule. I agree that you can’t use the past teams who have missed players through rep games as a reason not to have the rule, but I still don’t necessarily like it. As 38er said, how do you replace an impact bench player who can cover multiple positions with a like player?

    I also disagree with the thought that rep games are more prone to cause injury due to the level of competition. I honestly think trial games and games where players may be dropped back to reserve grade a much more open to injury due to the lower level of competition, potentially lower standard grounds etc.

    Also, as mighty alluded to, what are the rules when Rapana comes back? do they need to get rid of the player picked to replace him? What if he comes back earlier than expected? If the replacement is contracted for 14 games and Rapana comes back in 10, are the raiders then potentially over the cap? Or does Rapana have to sit out the entire period?

    For me there are too many questions unanswered, and knowing what the NRL is like, they probably are not covered in the rule.

    That said, it is definitely good news for the Raiders.

  4. In theory the rule is a common sense one and should have been brought in long ago. But in practice it is another example of the NRL making knee jerk decisions without fully thinking it through. Where do you find a player of any quality that wants to be sacked in 3 months time ? Answer: In another team on a transfer deal ending when Rapana returns whether that be 10 or 14 weeks. But we don’t have those in the NRL

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