Gorden Tallis calls out Roosters over $1.8 million 'elephant in the room'

The rugby league icon has questioned how the Sydney Roosters keep making big signings.

Gorden Tallis, pictured here alongside Sydney Roosters players.
Gorden Tallis has questioned how the Roosters keep signing players. Image: Getty

Gorden Tallis has questioned how the Sydney Roosters manage to keep signing players amid reports their team has been valued at $1.8 million over the salary cap. Last week the Roosters snared the signature of Knights winger Dominic Young, and on Monday it emerged that Panthers forward Spencer Leniu is also heading to Bondi.

Earlier this week, leading NRL journalist Phil Rothfield reported that the Roosters squad has been valued at being $1.8 million over what their salary cap is. However there are no claims they are doing anything untoward and their roster has been given the tick of approval by salary cap auditors.

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As Braith Anasta explained on NRL 360 on Monday night, players will often take a pay cut to play for the Roosters due to the prestige of the club and their history of success. “There is an appeal there... there’s a fair chance they’re going to be successful, they’re professional, they’re run well, but also it’s the people you meet through the Roosters,” said Anasta, who played 147 games for the tricolours.

“All these guys (on the board), if you form relationships with them off the field that can help set you up when you retire, it’s connecting you make off the field that are invaluable. A lot of players know if they go there they’ll leave there a better person and financially probably better off, not so much for the money they get but they can potentially earn through those connections. So there’s definitely appeal there where you’ll take less on your contract to be involved in a club like it."

The Roosters have often been accused by fans of rorting the salary cap, with many suggesting they have more of a 'salary sombrero' than a cap. On the 'Footy Talk' podcast this week, Tallis said the rumours won't be going away anytime soon.

“Dare I say what everybody is thinking, the sombrero is back, I laugh you know,” he said. “Last week with the Dominic Young situation, Newcastle go find this kid, they put all the effort in and then you get someone to come and grab him and it comes down to money.

“I saw an article from 'Buzz' (Rothfield) and he reckons in his calculations that they’re over, I just don’t want fans to get disheartened, and Penrith lose another player. But that’s what happens when you get success.

“I like (Leniu), he’s a real aggressive player, he comes off and it’s like he’s always got boxing gloves and the mouthguard every time he runs on the footy field. It’s a great buy for the Roosters but I’m not sure how the fans will feel about it.

“I’ve got to be careful here because they say 'well that’s the salary cap working' (Leniu having to leave Penrith). But if you look at the Roosters - Manu on $1 million, Tedesco on $1 million, Keary over $700k, Crichton over $700k then Suaalii and Big Jared (Waerea-Hargeaves), like it’s a lot of lollies to fill up one bag. Then they can go buy a young Dominic Young when a lot of clubs were offering him over 500k and the Bulldogs have a fair bit of money to spend and they chase him and don’t get him."

Spencer Leniu, pictured here in action for the Penrith Panthers in 2022.
Spencer Leniu in action for the Penrith Panthers in 2022. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Gorden Tallis calls out 'elephant in the room'

Tallis refuted suggestions that players care more about winning then the money. “I’m not saying anything, it’s a great buy from the Roosters and I guarantee they got him cheap and he went there to play Roosters football and he’s a Roosters type of guy,” he added.

“I can see the headline - it’s about the culture, it’s not about they money that goes into my bank account, it’s never been about that (laughing). I’m going to make a comeback, I might get a get gig there. “In life, with kids, what I find now is they want the shiniest toy so you can’t say they go there for the culture because that’s just a buzz word. Dare I say it - you go there for the most money.

“The only other thing that keeps you at a club is the camaraderie and their mates they love playing with. The rest of it comes down to the paper and the bling.

“There’s an elephant in the room, they keep on signing players and I don’t know how, it’s a running joke but I just don’t know how. You can’t keep saying it’s a culture and they want to play Roosters football, it’s rugby league, it’s always been rugby league, they just want to get paid more money to play the same game.”

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