Imagine this, you are Sonny Bill Williams and are about to confirm your allegiances to your country of birth. You get an anonymous call promising there $100,000 in it for you if you align with Australia instead. Scandalous right? Well this is what could happen if the NRL establishes the new Superannuation/Loyalty Scheme as planned. The NRL has announced their intention to introduce a super fund based on how many representative games players compete in. Associated with this is an understanding that the players will forfeit their fund if they switch codes.
This scheme has merit, however it clearly disadvantages foreign players. If both Sonny Bill and his teammate Willie Mason play the maximum amount of rep. games they qualify for this year (including State of Origin and Tests) Mason will play 10 games, while Williams will play 6. With the figures mentioned this will lead to Sonny Bill $9,000 worse off each year of his rep. career. This sets up a dangerous temptation for players such as Benji Marshall, Karmichael Hunt and Williams who, due to their time spent gaining an education at Australian schools, qualify for both New Zealand and Australia. While these players may be impressed by the bright lights of State of Origin football, the thought of a larger super payment at the end of their career may be the straw that breaks the camel�s back. This also completely disadvantages players from other Pacific Island nations who may want to represent their homeland. A player for PNG for instance would receive no super bonus based on Test played last year even if he is of representative standard.
Phone call or not Sonny Bill would have chosen New Zealand. What NRL administrators need to consider is does he deserve to be disadvantaged?