Following the recent news of Warrington’s swoop for England halfback Gareth Widdop from NRL Side St George Illawarra, Super League chief executive Robert Elstone has opened up about plans to extend the current use of the Marquee rule.
The rule itself was introduced by the RFL in 2015 in order for Super league clubs to either keep hold of existing talent or attract top player to the english game, due to the superior financial pulling power of the NRL in Australia.
The rule allows clubs to count only the first £150,000 of any nominated players wage within that clubs salary cap with the reminder being between the club and the player. The rule was then increased to Two players in 2017.
Although clubs not have to use the facility it has helped clubs attract some big names to the Super League over the past few years, none more than reigning Man of Steel Ben Barba.
Although he has left St Helens to return to the NRL now, he has been replaced by two more stars from down under. Another team who has utilised the ruling to build they squad is Leeds Rhino’s who have recruited Australian International Trent Merrin and Tongan boom centre Konrad Hurrell for the next two or three years. While Warrington have this week added Widdop as their second Marquee signing along with current play maker Blake Austin (pictured).
Speaking about the possibility of increasing the limit to three former Everton chief executive officer Elstone told sky sports;
“A number of clubs have talked about it,” he said. “Whether it's ratified by all clubs – some may have different views – we'll see but it is on the agenda and clubs are aware of it.
“From where I'm sitting, high-quality marquee players across the board gives us more assets to work with. You have to work out the pros and cons. Six teams are 12/1 or less to win the Grand Final but if you lift marquee rulings you may have three or four.
Since Elstone was announced as Super Leagues CEO last season he has since seen a number of rule changes which will come into place this season, with the ending of the Qualifiers and Middle Eight set up, he has also overseen the introduction of the Golden Point rule to Super league games along with a shot clock and is believed to be waiting until the official 2019 season opening to annouce plans to change the Steve Prescot man of Steel award and the introduction of a pre-season nines competition in the near future.