Just before Christmas the NRL salary cap was elevated 25% taking it to $12.1 million or just under £7 million, over three times the level of the Super League.
The NRL is generally seen as a far better competition and for the most part it’s because they can afford to pay the best talent and retain it, whilst Super League often sees its stars depart.
An example of this will see Will Pryce and Kai Pearce-Paul take their talents to the NRL for 2024 onwards as they join Newcastle Knights.
Another example of the huge wage differences came when former Man of Steel Jackson Hastings revealed that the minimum salary in the NRL is $150,000, close to £90,000, meaning that some of Super League’s very best are paid less than NRL rookies.
Obviously players can take deals below their actual value for a chance to stay with a hometown club or for the chance to challenge for titles, therefore a team’s salary can often be perceived as stretching further than others.
The Sydney Roosters boast a squad that has three of the four starting full-backs from the World Cup semi-finals however they come in under the cap.
Despite that The Daily Telegraph have calculated the ‘true value’ of every NRL player and worked out where each team sits on the salary cap, doing so by estimating what they believe each player would be worth on the market at the moment.
They’ve estimated that the Roosters have $13.37 million worth of players within the current $11.5 million cap.
Plenty of players interchange between Super League and NRL during their career and here’s the market value of those former Super League players who have found their way back to the NRL.
Josh Reynolds – $150,000
The former Hull FC man left Humberside on bad terms with the player, the club and the fans all upset with the Australian’s time in England. Coming in on big money it just never worked out for Reynolds and he was released 18 months into his contract. He’s now back at his boyhood club Canterbury Bulldogs and is on the base rate of $150,000, which is still almost £90,000 highlighting the incredible spending power that the NRL has.
Danny Levi – $280,000
The former Huddersfield hooker spent just one season in Super League but he impressed during his time at the John Smith’s, so much so that Canberra picked up the 26-year-old. He’s already played over 100 games in the NRL and he’ll go again in 2023, contending for the vacant starting spot left by Englishman Josh Hodgson who has since left for Parramatta. At £280,000 Levi is earning almost £160,000 a year, a hugely impressive salary.
Josh Hodgson – $375,000
The veteran hooker and former Hull FC and Hull KR man is rated as being on the lowest salary of Englishmen starting in the NRL. Given Hodgson’s age it’s understandable that he’s at the lower end of this list.
John Bateman – $520,000
Bateman is back in the NRL but he’s been rated as the lowest salary among the batch of English forwards that are in the competition. During his first stint in the NRL he earned the accolade of Daly M second-rower of the year showing he has the ability to mix it down under.
Elliot Whitehead – $540,000
Whitehead was a teammate of Bateman’s when the former Wigan man was first in the NRL and he still remains at Canberra, heading into his eighth season with the side. Despite being four years older than Bateman he’s rated as $20,000 more expensive on what the open market would be according to those at the Telegraph.
Luke Thompson – $550,000
Still aged just 27 the former St Helens man ranks as just over £300,000 on the Telegraph’s list of presumed open market prices. He heads into his third season down under and is set to come off contract at the end of the upcoming campaign.
Jackson Hastings – $580,000
The former Man of Steel winner is finding his way back in the NRL, and after a poor first year back down under with Wests Tigers he’s found a new club. Hastings has gone to the Knights in a player swap deal and he’s now got the responsibility of putting the strugglers into the play-offs. There’s no doubt that he was on big money during his time in England, particularly when he moved to Wigan after his impressive season with Salford, however he’s on major money down under. Hastings is worth a whopping £325,000 per the Telegraph’s estimations, hence why it’s so important for Newcastle that he rediscovers his form and pushes them onwards.