Taking one for the team: Keary set to take less to stay with Roosters
While David Fifita may not have been willing to stay at Brisbane for less, Luke Keary is on the verge of announcing a three-year extension with the Sydney Roosters for a pay packet well below what he would demand on the open market.
Keary, who isn’t off contract until the end of next year, is finalising a three-year extension with the back-to-back reigning champions worth around $2.8 million, averaging out at just over $930,000 per season, until 2024. The retention of fullback James Tedesco is also expected to follow for the Roosters in the coming months, locking in the duo they will build the club around.
Luke Keary and James Tedesco, celebrating the 2019 NRL premiership, are the two players the Roosters have chosen to build their club around.CREDIT:NRL PHOTOS
While Keary will receive a pay rise of more than $200,000 per season, there’s little doubt he would have become the game’s latest million-dollar player if he went elsewhere. He was also being touted as a potential face of the Brisbane expansion team to enter the competition in 2022 or 2023.
Few would argue that he is the best playmaker in the NRL already, but his new deal won’t reflect that, proving some players are willing to stay for less to be part of special teams and play football in September.
Kieran Foran, Ash Taylor, Ben Hunt, Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Michael Morgan, Anthony Milford and Mitchell Pearceare currently getting paid more than Keary will receive in his new deal.
If the Gold Coast Titans are willing to splash the cash and fork out $1.2m for Fifita, Keary could well demand similar figures given he has represented his country and won three NRL premierships during his career. He was also voted the best five-eighth in the NRL by his peers in the recent 2020 Players’ Poll.
Luke Keary is best No.6 in the game, according to the 150 who voted in the NRL Players' Poll earlier this month.CREDIT:NRL
Injuries have denied Keary the chance to play State of Origin, but the 2018 Clive Churchill Medal winner is expected to make his NSW debut in the No.6 jersey at the end of the year.
The 28-year-old, who helped set up the match-winning try in last season’s grand final against the Canberra Raiders, is entering the prime of his career having turned 28 at the start of the year and has taken his game to another level following the retirement of Cooper Cronk.
Unlike some players, Keary has recognised that if he demanded more than $1m to stay, it would cost the team elsewhere.
Such a payday could mean the Morris brothers wouldn’t be able to stay on for another season, or Tedesco wouldn’t be able to receive the type of money that reflects his new status as the best player in the game.
The Roosters, led by coach Trent Robinson and club supremo Nick Politis, have also recognised the importance of not paying overs. They offered Latrell Mitchell $800,000 last year, however he wanted more.
The Roosters wouldn’t budge, offering what they believed he was worth to their team, not what he could attract elsewhere.
Mitchell’s defection has opened the door for the tricolours to lure Sonny Bill Williams back to the NRL, with the dual international set to hop on a plane in the coming days bound for a Sydney hotel room for a fortnight of quarantine before rejoining his old club.
Foran's fine print
As reported by the Herald a couple of weeks ago, Canterbury have offered Kieran Foran a one-year contract worth between $300,000-$400,000. Foran wants to stay and incoming coach Trent Barrett also wants him to remain.
The sticking point regards concerns over his durability. The Bulldogs have offered him a base salary closer to $300,000 with the remaining value to be paid if he plays a certain amount of games.
Kieran Foran has had his fair share of injury concerns since joining the Bulldogs in 2018.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES
The Bulldogs have paid him more than a $1m a season for the past three years but he’s played half of those games.
Foran isn’t disputing that his value has dropped significantly, but he doesn’t want his deal to be based around terms relating to the number of games he plays. The Bulldogs have been supportive of Foran through his injuries but are just trying to protect themselves in fear of the worst.
NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has made no secret of the significance he places on character and integrity when selecting his teams.
Before last week’s game, we contacted Fittler to see if Eels forward Ryan Matterson was still in his plans given the way he exited the Wests Tigers. ‘‘Since the exodus he has shown nothing but a great attitude and his football is proof,’’ Fittler said. ‘‘Can’t wait to see how he handles this week.’’
Ryan Matterson is helped off the field after a first-half concussion against the Tigers on Thursday night.CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES
While Fittler didn’t get much of a chance to see him in action after a heavy concussion ended his night early, it’s safe to say he remains part of the coach’s plans leading into the end-of-season State of Origin series.
Anthem for change
This week isn’t the right time given the planned Indigenous round celebrations, but bubbling along in the background is the debate around the national anthem.
It speaks to the power of the voices of Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr and Cody Walkerthat the NRL is now considering scrapping the singing of Advance Australia Fair before this year’s Origin series after the trio’s stance last year.