Phil Gould and Andrew Johns hit out over 'totally not fair' NRL farce

The rugby league greats have both called for the NRL to make a key change.

Phil Gould and Andrew Johns, pictured here in the NRL.
Phil Gould and Andrew Johns have both criticised the NRL's salary cap and signing system. Image: Getty

Rugby league heavyweights Phil Gould and Andrew Johns have derided the NRL's current salary cap system which sees teams lose their local talents due to their own success. The Panthers have won back-to-back premierships over the last two years, but are going through some roster upheaval as a result.

Viliame Kikau and Matt Burton have joined the Canterbury Bulldogs, Api Koroisau and Charlie Staines are now at the Wests Tigers, while J'maine Hopgood has left for the Parramatta Eels. Stephen Crichton will also link up with the Bulldogs next year, while Spencer Leniu will reportedly join the Sydney Roosters.

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The Panthers are the best team in the competition at fostering local juniors and making them successful first-grade footballers. However there is no incentive to do so when clubs offer up more money come contract time.

Because the Panthers have seen several of their local juniors go on to play State of Origin and Test football, they can't keep up with the prices they demand once they become superstars and they lose them to other clubs. Speaking on the 'Freddie and the Eighth' podcast this week, Johns said clubs should be compensated by the NRL when they can't afford to keep a local junior who has become too expensive to fit under the salary cap.

Describing it as "totally not fair", Johns said: "There's no reward really for producing your own players. You finally get them to the top grade and they play there for two or three years and then other clubs pick him up."

Gould expressed similar sentiments on the 'Six Tackles with Gus' podcast. The former Panthers football manager now holds the same role at the Bulldogs and helped recruit Kikau, Burton and Crichton.

"It gives no incentive for development," he said. "It's sad the Panthers are going to lose a lot of those homegrown developed players … [but] they're not the first club to have this happen to them."

Viliame Kikau, pictured here in action for the Bulldogs in the NRL pre-season.
Viliame Kikau in action for the Bulldogs in the NRL pre-season. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Phil Gould hits out at rival clubs' lack of junior pathways

Gould hit out at the lack of junior development going on at other clubs. The Roosters are infamous for failing to produce local talent, with Victor Radley their only Eastern Suburbs product of note.

"The salary cap pressure the Panthers are feeling is because there has been a lack of development in the majority of the other clubs, when they don't have a development system where players are coming through," he said. "What do they do when they're short of a player or they want to improve their lot? They've got to go and buy a player. Where do you go and buy? Off the team that's performing the best."

Speaking earlier this week, Crichton denied money was a factor in his decision to leave the Panthers. The State of Origin centre also refuted reports he is moving to the Bulldogs so he can play fullback.

“I just want to make it clear it was nothing to do with money, it was nothing to do with position,” Crichton told the Daily Telegraph. “I kind of never wanted to leave Penrith. My only option I wanted was to stay no matter what happened.

"I got back from my time at the World Cup and was looking for an answer. I had to go to Samoa and wanted to get it done, but just couldn’t get an answer. So once I got my head around that I couldn’t stay with Penrith, I spoke to a few people I trust, then I made a decision to move on. The opportunity at the Bulldogs came up and just looking at the club, that is where my decision went.”

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