The Super League side Warrington say they are “actively monitoring” the Saracens situation in rugby union in light of their relegation to the Championship, with the Wolves chief executive revealing they have not ruled out trying to sign one of their star players if the opportunity arises.
The future of many of Saracens’ key names remains unclear as they prepare to play in the Championship next season. The Super League rules grants clubs dispensation to sign union players without their wages counting on the salary cap in the first year of any contract. In year two, half of their wages remain exempt from the cap under the “new talent pool” ruling.
Warrington, one of Super League’s richest clubs, are ready to strike should any player explore the possibility of switching codes. Their chief executive, Karl Fitzpatrick, told the Guardian: “We’re actively monitoring the situation. We’ve still got one spot left on the new talent pool dispensation and should the opportunity present itself, we’d certainly look at it.”
Warrington have already taken advantage of the ruling in the last 12 months, having signed the Northampton and England centre Luther Burrell midway through last season. Each Super League club has space to sign two players under the ruling, meaning the Wolves have space to accommodate one more union convert.
Fitzpatrick’s comments come at a time when the Super League salary cap is under more scrutiny than perhaps ever before. Newly-promoted Toronto Wolfpack are pressing the Rugby Football League for permission to spend above the £2.1m limit before their first season in the top division this year. The matter is set to be discussed by the governing body and Super League clubs in the coming days: but the Wolfpack’s request is likely to be met with resistance by clubs.
There is increasing concern among a number of clubs about how extra salary cap spend for the Wolfpack would give them an advantage over everyone else and on Friday, the Super League chief executive, Robert Elstone, admitted it is farcical that the matter is only being discussed days out from the start of the new season. “It’s crazy that it’s being done at the end of January really,” he said. “Clubs have built squads, set budgets and a week out from the start of the season, we’re looking at something that might impact Toronto and the rest of the league. The game should have addressed it sooner.”
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