Rugby League


Raiders may need a leg-up from NRL to attract quality players, says Clinton Schifcofske

Former Raiders captain and now player manager Clinton Schifcofske says the NRL may need to look at salary cap concessions for Canberra to attract key players to the city.

However, Tigers great Ben Elias believes giving the Raiders extra help financially would open up a Pandora's box and create an unfair playing field for the rest of the competition.

The Raiders have missed out on four big recruiting targets in the past fortnight, rejections from Kevin Proctor, Josh Mansour and Michael Ennis culminating with Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco reneging on a three-year deal with Canberra.

Raiders officials Don Furner and Simon Hawkins visited NRL headquarters during the week to continue lobbying for junior development concessions in the salary cap and Canberra is expected to continue those talks directly with NRL boss Dave Smith when he attends Monday night's game at Canberra Stadium.

Schifcofske, who played for the Raiders from 2001 to 2006, said the NRL might need to consider giving the Raiders extra room in the salary cap to attract players as the AFL did for teams in its non-traditional states.

"The AFL have done that in the past with Sydney and Brisbane, so maybe the NRL needs to do it for Canberra, especially since they have all these good juniors that get ripped out of there," Schifcofske said.


"It's hard, but you've got to try and identify the right blokes - middle-aged with young families, country blokes, but that's not always going to happen in the ideal world.

"You get a 21-year-old born and bred in Sydney and going to live in Canberra is a bit tough."

The Raiders offered substantially more money to Proctor, Tedesco, Mansour and Ennis but still missed out on them.

Another option could be to implement an external draft to distribute talent across the competition as in the AFL.

While they have the same salary cap as the other 15 clubs, the Raiders struggle because of Canberra's relatively small corporate market and ability to secure third-party sponsorship deals.

Elias echoed Schifcofske's sentiments but warned it would be a dangerous precedent to give the Raiders a leg up.

"That is the reality of big business - you can't be sentimental about that," Elias said.

"What about when they become a real powerhouse and you look at what the NRL has done for them?

"It has to be one rule for all."

Elias agreed with Schifcofske that living in Canberra would be an attraction to older players with families.

"More settled players, that'd be your market," Elias said.

"I would be looking at the demographics of the players because Canberra is a family club.

"If you're a family man and bringing up kids there's no better place than Canberra with the facilities, beautiful parks, open spaces, no traffic. It's a wonderful lifestyle."

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has vowed to continue his aggressive recruiting approach.

Schifcofske believes one factor working against the Raiders is the club's lack of free-to-air television coverage. He said it had an impact on representative selections and the amount of off-field endorsements a player can generate.

"It has a massive influence on rep sides, all that type of stuff," Schifcofske said.

"If you're playing on Channel Nine you've got Andrew Johns and Peter Sterling rapping you up and it does help, I don't care what anyone says.

"In terms of your profile and your marketability it's definitely a factor."