So it was announced recently that hard-hitting power runner Jason Taumalolo of the North Queensland Cowboys was handed a contract of $10m for 10years by his current club. A lot of us were left scratching our heads as to why a Rugby League club would make such a commitment for such a long period of time.
There’s no denying Taumalolo’s talent but 10 years is a long time for a forward in the NRL to maintain performances worthy of commanding a million dollar pay day.
For those thinking “hang on a minute, if the cap goes up, then the Cowboys would be getting away with a steal!” Hold your horses there Mr. accountant. The contract is indexed with the cap. This means, if the cap goes up, so does Taumalolo’s annual salary. Till the end of his contract, Taumalolo will be roughly 14% of the Cowboys’ salary cap. Considering there is a top 25 who need to be paid a minimum of $80,000 along with certain staff members who are to be included in next year’s cap, good luck to the Cowboys in keeping their depth.
To Justify a $1m annual salary or thereabouts, it’s hard to argue that the Cowboys would expect anything less than Dally M worthy seasons. Assuming Taumalolo is being counted a Lock or Second Rower, it’s hard to look beyond previous Dally M Team of the Year winners and see how their careers went after earning the awards.
Take 2007 for example. Dallas Johnson won the Lock of the Year and Anthony Watmough won the Second Row Forward of the Year. Johnson left to go play in England and wasn’t as impactful two years later and Watmough’s career has been impacted severely by injuries and his quality had dipped accordingly. 2008 was a similar combination, Alan Tongue won the Lock of the Year and Glenn Stewart won the Second Rower of the Year.
Tongue, Stewart, Johnson and Watmough have been brilliant players for their respective clubs, but at any stage did you step back and say that they deserved to be paid $1m? If so, I’ll happily concede that our ideas of value differ. There’s no disputing that these players are world class.
Broadening our scope finding a forward worth $1m a season is rare. Finding a forward whose performances for a decade have been worth $1m per season is damn near impossible.
Taumalolo plays an integral role for the Cowboys in the middle of the field. The battering that he will be taking on a weekly basis as well as his consistent inclusion in representative squads will only make it harder for Taumalolo to sustain his abilities for another 10 years. I’m sure Taumalolo, if healthy, will be a force for years to come. However, will he pack a $1m punch like we saw last year? I’d be betting on father time verse any player if given the opportunity.
By Nik Hatzi