Any payments Inglis received playing up until April will go into this year’s salary cap, as well as anything Souths pay him in his new off-field role for the rest of the season. The NRL will make a final determination in October on any salary cap implications for next season once they put a market value on his community, corporate and coaching roles for the Rabbitohs.
For example, if the salary cap auditor determines the going rate for Inglis’ off-field work is $200,000 and that’s all the club pays him, there won’t be any cap penalty for next year. If they pay him $300,000, they would have to carry the $100,000 difference in the cap.
That means if they pay Inglis at the market rate and he is qualified to do the work, they could spend all $1 million of his playing contract on replacements.
“If we’re comfortable with what they’re paying him and the amount of activity he has done in the last six months, then the decision could be it’s all excluded or a component of it could be included in the salary cap,” said NRL salary cap auditor Richard Gardham.
The NRL worked three other potential scenarios before coming up with its ruling. They included capping all of the $1.5 million in his playing contract he walked away from; including just the off-field work; or excluding all payments altogether.
Rugby League Central settled on its position following a meeting of all club chief executives in Brisbane during Magic Round.
“There was no level of unhappiness in the way we were approaching it or what we were proposing at the time,” said NRL chief operating officer Nick Weeks. “The Rabbitohs did what we would expect any club to do. They came through the front door and told us ‘this is what is happening, this is what we’re proposing to do’.”
Other players, such as Penrith hooker Peter Wallace, have retired early and transitioned into a post-playing career at their club. What made the Inglis situation unique is that he walked away from a mammoth $1.5 million remaining on his playing contract in order to do so. While some clubs privately view the situation with suspicion, the governing body is satisfied with the way the player and club have conducted themselves.
“If Greg Inglis was fit and wanting to play, they would be a stronger team with Greg Inglis,” Gardham said. “Any decision we make we needs to make sure we’re not over-penalising anyone to significantly imbalance the competition from an evenness perspective.”
The Rabbitohs had expressed an interest in reuniting out-of-favour Brisbane centre James Roberts with coach Wayne Bennett at Redfern, although club powerbrokers are cooling on the idea.
They could instead hold out for Mitchell. His father, Matt, played for South before returning to Taree due to homesickness and has admitted he will always be a Rabbitohs supporter.
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.