In the months leading-up to Wednesday’s confirmation that the NRL will investigate alleged salary cap issues at Manly, at least two Sea Eagles players had been chasing mooted third party deals.
We can reveal Nate Myles and Dylan Walker were none too happy about being out of pocket. Myles has now moved onto Melbourne, abruptly splitting from the Sea Eagles with almost 18 months to run on his contract.
Walker is still at the club – and playing brilliant footy. But he’s done so under the strain of not receiving a substantial sum of money he expected to get.
Former half Kieran Foran also walked away from the club at the end of 2015 with $140,000 allegedly owing. It’s likely negotiations surrounding those players will form part of the investigation.
There is no suggestion that any player has been involved in anything improper.
Under NRL rules surrounding the salary cap, clubs cannot guarantee third party payments. But in the general business of negotiation that doesn’t stop clubs from promising players to make “best endeavours” to secure them.
Trouble starts when those “best endeavours” don’t result in any introductions to sponsors, let alone a TPA. The rugby league world witnessed the fall-out at Parramatta last year, which exposed the Eels for topping-up player salaries by fraudulent means when promises of third party deals fell through.
It appears the evidence surrounding Manly had been gathered by the NSW Crime Commission star chamber, which was originally set up to investigate three games between 2015 and 2016 featuring the Sea Eagles for possible match-fixing.
It appears the questions asked of those under investigation extended well beyond betting – and into the realm of salary cap breaches.
Manly went straight on the front foot, issuing a media release within minutes of the news breaking published that described its contents as “unsubstantiated rumour”. But the NRL has nonetheless determined that it has enough justification to open an investigation.
We can also reveal its Integrity Unit has already been speaking to at least three former staff members about sponsorship arrangements at the club.