In recent days, Paul Kent has been unrelenting in his criticism of the NRL. His dissatisfaction stems from the Parramatta Eels valuing Jarryd Hayne at $500K in a one year deal with the club. With platforms stretching across radio, television, the Internet and newsprint, this rugby league shock jock has enjoyed a sizeable base from which to launch his attacks.
And why wouldn’t he write about this subject?
The Parramatta club, along with Jarryd Hayne, attract a massive audience.
Indeed, when it comes to social media, Hayne alone has a following approaching a quarter of a million people. That’s a staggering number for a rugby league player.
If you “report” about either subject, you’re diving into a Clickbait pool of guaranteed depth. Whether the response is positive or negative matters little. If you’ve tapped into a market which generates extraordinary numbers of views, listens and reactions, you will undoubtedly drink repeatedly from that well.
And so it is with our multi-media friend.
Kent was merciless in his attacks on the Parramatta club during 2016. The architects of the salary cap scandal deserved his ire; the playing group and coaches should have received his praise for their battles against adversity.
This year, Kent’s target has been Jarryd Hayne. For a time line and overview of his Hayne commentary, you won’t find better than this post from The Sportress. In essence, our journo mate previously believed that “The Plane” was undeserving of his rich contract with a Titans club that should seriously consider releasing him.
So is it valid to devote so much attention to a player whose club contract has dropped from $800K to $500K? (That’s a $300K drop. His $400K TPA cannot be linked to the club.)
For most players, a contract worth half a million dollars would be deemed a substantial deal. Any other NRL player producing Hayne’s 2017 form would be lucky to be offered half of that.
But we aren’t discussing any ordinary player. This is a two-time Dally M Medallist, so the form reference needs to be balanced. Every NRL fan knows what Jarryd Hayne is capable of producing. This is a player who can single-handedly turn the tide of a match. An elite athlete who literally carried an Eels team to the 2009 decider.
Yet, we’ve seen little evidence of this since 2014.
Is $500K a true market value?
Our angry journo critic argues that there can be no fair market value if the player doesn’t go to market. However, Hayne has accepted a price not too different from Kent’s own assessment of $600K, from a club that is his junior club, a club that he could never bring himself to play against. Surely the returning Eel has therefore placed a fair value on his own services?
Indeed, in this instance, Brad Arthur deserves praise for the recruitment and contract decisions which are leaving the Parramatta club with salary cap space.
Unlike the financially irresponsible Kieran Foran deal secured by Scott Seward, Parramatta’s contracts are now based on a player’s value to the team, not the top dollar they could earn elsewhere. It’s meant that the club has missed out on the signatures of sought after players during the past two years, but the reward is found in a balanced team now playing under a balanced cap.
Of greater concern should be the practice of clubs back ending player contracts.
This practice allows a club to assemble a powerful team of elite players, with many on escalating contracts. The inevitable result sees such clubs trying to offload the stars in the latter years of their deals. However, the club is banking on creating a premiership window, then taking care of cap problems at a later date.
Surely deals where star players take a cut in the early part of multi-year contracts, with a golden handshake final year, must wave massive red flags to the game’s governing body? Unlike emerging players, the elite shouldn’t be on such arrangements. Their contracts should vary little, and should only increase from a legitimate value base. The only purpose of back-ended contracts is to manipulate the salary cap.
Which now returns the debate to Jarryd Hayne’s contract.
This is a one year deal. It’s well above the money received by most NRL players and there’s no back-ending arrangement. If, as I believe, Hayne returns to elite player form, his value will increase.
Furthermore, with the potential for third party sponsors to jump on board a rejuvenated Eels star, and his own line of apparel, there’s plenty of legitimate long term gain for Hayne to make.
The reality is that right now a one year, $500K contract is both realistic and responsible. This is probably not sensational enough for Mr Kent- he wouldn’t get an extended series of feature comments from such analysis.
The future – that lies in the hands of Jarryd Hayne.