Colin Windon (37)
We have a history of picking them up on contracts worth more than the player, because we've been scared of NRL coming with the cash, and as a result they have an inflated sense of their worth - particularly with RUPA standing to benefit from it.
Another factor is the lack of equity in pay across the board. Our forwards are not compensated nearly as well as the backs, ironically because forwards can't make the transition to league as easily, and tight five play is undervalued in this nation.
So just as a thought experiment, I wonder what would happen if the ARU decided for a cycle to give no fucks about the NRL and pay what the players were worth, rather than what they felt would keep them from going to the NRL.
Select the text from here --
I'd imagine the NRL would scoop up a number of rugby players, but not all of them would see much playing time and wouldn't be satisfied in the game -- especially x-factor backs with a history of making tackling optional.
The stocks of rugby players would drop, but at the same time it might drive up competition for NRL spots, which could drive down contract prices --because a squad can tell a league player they have five other union players who'll do the same job for less pay, and the squad can easily train them to do the role (just look at Semi Radradra at the Eels, a top-scorer who transferred from Fijian rugby and says he still doesn't understand the rules of league, but he doesn't have to).
And as NRL contract prices leveled out, the NRL would become less of a contract-leverage tool, which would mean players who turned to rugby would be there for what it offers and for what international rugby means, rather than what they can squeeze out of the organization; and the ARU wouldn't have to so worried about players fucking off the league if they don't get their way or preferred treatment in union.
There'd be a few fallow years in rugby, but it could help reset the deck in union. And with the rise of the Olympics, you'd most likely get more people looking to get back to a union contract sooner than later, as well as former union players who don't get game-time in league first trying their hand in Europe and then possibly returning.
-- to here to see a pseudo-economic and most probably wrong-headed analysis of how that might look. (I'm a coward with this analysis and not willing to stand behind it -- that's why the text is hidden.)