Bulldogs slam NRL for salary cap farce
A fired up Dean Pay says the NRL is not doing enough to help clubs with salary cap relief for injured rep players after Canterbury's horrible run continued over the weekend.
As if losing marquee playmaker Kieran Foran to a shoulder injury while playing for New Zealand at the end of last year wasn't bad enough, now the Bulldogs have suffered another loss with reliable forward Chris Smith going down with a potentially season-ending ACL knee injury in the All Stars clash.
While Smith might not be one of the game's bigger stars, he did a quality job for the Bulldogs last season and his boots are going to be hard to fill at this late stage of the pre-season, especially given the cap concessions the club will get under the current guidelines.
Pay tried to maintain his composure but was understandably upset when he spoke to The Daily Telegraph on Sunday from Papua New Guinea where he had been to watch the Bulldogs play Cronulla in a trial.
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Pay is off contract at the end of the season and is fighting to save his own job but he said that was not the issue.
Canterbury only received $350,000 in salary cap relief for Foran despite the fact the five-eighth is on $1.2 million for the season, while Smith's estimated $200,000 wage is now a wipe-out as well.
While the Bulldogs will naturally apply for the salary cap concession to cover Smith's absence, it will still be on the club to foot the entire bill and come up with an extra $200,000 if and when they can find a suitable replacement.
Pay didn't hesitate when asked if he thought the current $350,000 salary cap relief limit was enough.
"No, I don't," he said.
"We pay them, we prepare them to go and play in the rep teams.
"They get hurt and we are the ones who get left in the lurch.
"I have two players out now who are regular first grade players each and every week.
"How in the hell can we buy a like-for-like with Kieran Foran?
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"When you get rep players and they are playing for New Zealand or Australia, they are not on $350,000.
"They are the highest paid players in the game so it needs to be a percentage on what they are on.
"Do you think if James Tedesco goes down the Roosters are going to find a player to replace him for $350,000?"
And Pay said at the other end of the scale a player like Smith is equally hard to replace.
"You go and find me a player for the same money," Pay said.
"I am venting a bit here but Chris was going to play a big part for us.
"I just think this really needs to be looked at.
"I don't want to make this about me because it impacts everyone at the club and especially the player who is injured.
"And I understand injuries are part of the game and I don't want to stand in the way of any of my players playing rep footy because that is a great opportunity for them.
"But there has to be a better deal for the club if something does go wrong."
There were also fears that star fullback Dallin Watene-Zelezniak had suffered a serious back injury but Pay said he had received word from physio Tony Ayoub that Watene-Zelezniak should be okay to play against Canberra in this Saturday's trial in Port Macquarie.
In other injury news coming out of the weekend Blake Ferguson looked to have suffered a late shoulder injury in the All Stars clash but Ferguson is said to be fine while Wade Graham's ankle injury is not serious and John Morris says Graham wants to play in this weekend's trial.
The news isn't as good for luckless Cronulla hooker Cameron King who suffered a suspected ACL knee injury and is likely to miss the entire year.
St George Illawarra forward Josh Kerr also suffered a suspected MCL knee injury in the All Stars match and Sione Mata'utia also a suspected MCL problem in Newcastle's trial loss to the Dragons.
The other major concern was with Gold Coast half Tyrone Roberts who looked to have done his Achilles in the All Stars game.