THE NRL salary cap is, in my eyes, unjust. It restricts prosperous sporting organisations from reaping the rewards of their success and assists under-achievers in maintaining a level of mediocrity.
And now, with all 16 clubs receiving grants that cover their salary cap plus an additional 30% bonus, no real incentive remains for clubs to work hard for the corporate and membership dollar.
But negatives aside, the NRL salary cap is working a treat. As we head into yet another season, all but the still-struggling Knights appear a genuine chance of playing finals.
Here are my brief thoughts on the 2017 premiership race:
Broncos - will miss Corey Parker's work rate and offloads, but have a backline that oozes class. Forward strength is the unknown.
Bulldogs - have a highly talented roster despite no signings of note. But is big still beautiful?
Cowboys - need some young forwards to stand up, but should be there at the end. JT is, patently, the key.
Dragons - adding to their lone top-eight finish in five years is unlikely, with serious doubts over their spine and their attack.
Eels - another team with a question mark over the make-up of the all-important spine. An excellent coach may not be enough.
Knights - wooden spoon favourites, and rightly so. Courage won't score them many points.
Panthers - stronger on paper than in their 2016 resurgence and are genuine premiership threats. Forward talent is awesome.
Raiders - could well be the 2017 premiers, although the early loss of skipper Jarrod Croker is a blow. Outstanding, mobile pack and slick backs.
Rabbitohs - the jury is still out on the Rabbits despite their smattering of match winners. Conceding 23 points a game last season remains a concern.
Roosters - poor discipline has long been an alarm at the Roosters, but their roster is outstanding. If they start with a bang they will be a threat.
Sharks - the pressure on the premiers is immense, particularly with no experienced replacement for Michael Ennis. Aging forwards may struggle in a team that will be hunted every week.
Sea Eagles - in a major rebuilding phase and unlikely to be title contenders. Brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic will be the soul of the transformation.
Storm - has missed the finals just once in 14 years, so why would 2017 be different? Some talent has gone, but the Storm rarely fails to find competent replacements.
Tigers - a smattering of stars are they but - incredibly - the Tigers already face salary cap questions. Will be troublesome at times, but won't play finals.
Titans - finalists last year for the first time in six seasons, yet depth could be an issue. Questions remain over the long-term commitment of superstar Jarryd Hayne.
Warriors - with unquestionably the most gifted spine in the game, this talented roster now has a very cluey coach. But consistency, as always, remains the query.
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