Rugby League

License article

Rabbitohs deal puts Inglis in lead for first million-dollar man

GREG INGLIS, who re-signed with South Sydney yesterday until the end of 2017, will hit the magic $1 million-a-season mark through the course of his new deal.

The Herald was told yesterday the Rabbitohs fullback stands to earn $1 million a season at a stage of the four-year extension he has signed, stamping himself as one of the highest paid players in the game and potentially making him the first player to reach that figure after the new broadcast rights deal.

Inglis had been on a deal that averaged about $700,000 a season, but has taken his game to a new level at fullback this winter after being switched to No.1 by coach Michael Maguire.

The Rabbitohs were keen to wrap up their prize possession and Inglis had been happy to accommodate them. After about two months of negotiations, the Rabbitohs secured Inglis.

Other players might still potentially beat Inglis to the $1 million-a-season mark, which was impossible under the previous media-rights deal and the salary-cap constraints that came with it, but which has become a ''not if but when'' scenario after the ARL Commission negotiated a $1.025 billion windfall.

North Queensland halfback Johnathan Thurston is off contract at the end of next season and, as the Queensland and Australian five-eighth, could command close to $1 million a season. But he will be 30 early next season, while the Rabbitohs have secured Inglis at just 25. ''I feel very proud and honoured to be re-signing and staying on,'' Inglis said. ''I was saying to my partner the other day when this all came about, 'I'll be 30, when it comes to the end of it'. I'm really looking forward to the exciting times ahead of us.''


Inglis joined the Rabbitohs last year amid controversy after salary-cap auditor Ian Schubert refused to ratify the deal immediately because of concerns over third-party agreements. It followed Inglis's decision to turn his back on the Broncos, who he had initially agreed to join.

It wasn't all plain sailing even after he was officially a Rabbitoh - Inglis admitted he had found it difficult to settle into life in Sydney early on.

''I just found it a bit hard to fit in and find the right places to hang out,'' he said. ''Now, I feel right at home - I've bought a house, I'm nice and relaxed, I'm happy away from footy and I come to training with a smile on my face.

''It's the old me again, a little kid enjoying my footy and enjoying life away from footy.''

Rabbitohs chief executive Shane Richardson said the deal made a ''statement about the club''. ''We're very happy with the deal,'' he said. ''He didn't go on the open market and he could have got significantly more [if he did]. We're very happy.

''It's a significant day for the club.''

The Rabbitohs were beaten by the Bulldogs in the preliminary final last Saturday. But Inglis is convinced the the squad can go further.

''We had a meeting about the season the other day, and we pretty much said we weren't satisfied with how this year went and we really want to lift that trophy at the end of the year,'' Inglis said. ''It's going to be exciting times ahead of us. We've just got to keep working hard.''

Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire said the show of faith by Inglis would be a boost for the rest of his teammates. ''He's capable of some extraordinary things on the field and he has an extraordinary effect on people off the field, too,'' Maguire said.