It’s time to take action and make changes before we lose the “super” from Super League.
There’s an old saying that I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees, and it was something we used as inspiration in one of our Grand Final wins a few years ago.
What that means is that if you are going to fail, it should be done on your own terms, rather than being dictated to by something else.
Super League now needs to take that option. We’ve already lost the likes of Kyle Eastmond, Joel Tomkins, Stephen Myler and Chris Ashton to rugby union, the Burgess brothers, James Graham and maybe Kallum Watkins, Sam Tomkins, Gareth Hock, Lee Mossop and Tom Briscoe in the not too distant future to the NRL.
We’ve got some great talent, but a player drain is starting and we are losing our best players. What happens in a few years when we go to negotiate the new TV deal, and they say “well you’ve lost all your best players”? Why should they, or any sponsors, then give any money?
We need to implement a 10 team elite division, with a £2m salary cap, and use that to get players back from rugby union and the NRL, and also to keep the current breed of players.
The second division would also have 10 teams, and operate at a £1m cap. You could add Featherstone, Halifax, Leigh, Sheffield, Toulouse and a Cumbrian team to complete the line-up.
There would be promotion and relegation between the two leagues, a five-team end of season play-off, and licensing could apply to those teams wishing to join the 20.
I don’t have all the ideas and there are flaws in any proposals, but we have enough smart people within the game to iron them out.
Rugby league needs to make a stand now. We’re starting to produce more and more great players, but we need to keep them in Super League.
The great administrators are pro-active and strategise; they don’t wait for something to happen before taking action.
There are going to be some clubs that will have to drop down to the second division, but tough decisions have to be made. For London Broncos, for instance, going down a league and being able to start winning games and get some fans behind a winning team, could be the making of them.
Ten years ago, St Helens nearly signed Sonny Bill Williams. We couldn’t even dream of that happening now. The league seems to slowly be eroding, like the coast against the tide.
We need people like Salford’s new owner Dr Marwan Koukash, people with ambition who want to take the sport to the next level. I don’t agree with the motion that Salford should have extra salary cap to everyone else – the salary cap should go up as a whole. Let’s apply it from next year.
There needs to be change, we can’t keep our head in the sand. We need to keep producing and retain our best players and really put the Super back in Super League.
It’s World Cup year, and the sport needs to make sure it can capitalise off the back of an exciting tournament and make 2014 a fantastic year for the game. Now is the time to act.