The Warrington Wolves chief executive, Karl Fitzpatrick, has insisted the signing of the Australian great Greg Inglis does not fly in the face of rugby league’s economic struggles. It comes with many top sides applying for a share of the £16m emergency loan issued to the sport by the government to protect its future.
Warrington announced on Tuesdaythey had signed Inglis for next season, one of the biggest deals in Super League history, and Fitzpatrick insisted the 33-year-old 2013 World Cup winner, who made 39 appearances for his country in numerous positions in the backs, has not come out of retirement for a payday.
“This is a signing for 2021, not for this season, and there has to be recruitment and retention for then,” he said. “We already have two marquee players [players whose salary counts for a maximum of £175,000 on the salary cap irrespective of what they are paid], and Greg is not coming here for a payday. This deal has been done with a potential salary cap amendment in mind and it’s been done because of his appetite and drive.”
However, Fitzpatrick stressed that with a vote imminent on whether to lower the Super League salary cap by around £300,000 due to the financial implications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it could have a detrimental impact on Super League’s ability to recruit top-tier players and retain homegrown talent.
“There is collateral damage associated to decisions like that and the facts are it will be harder to bring in players like Greg,” he said. “But again, we are absolutely not flaunting the salary cap. This club is cap-compliant, we were audited last year and this is a signing for the whole sport to get excited about.
“There are great players, there are legendary players and there are players like Greg Inglis. It puts the spotlight on the competition and the sport. His contract reflects the current landscape of the sport and any amendments we may see. We want everyone to be excited, not just Warrington fans.”
Inglis retired last April having played 265 NRL games after beinghampered by shoulder and knee injuries but he insisted that decision was not based on his fitness.
“There’s always an element of risk attached to a signing, but he’s fresh and raring to go ,” Fitzpatrick said.