Big earner ... Sonny Bill Williams. Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY ROOSTERS are now reaping the benefits of using only about 90 per cent of their salary cap last year.
Questions have been raised over the Roosters' ability to sign James Maloney, Sonny Bill Williams, Michael Jennings and now Luke O'Donnell, without going over the $5.8 million salary cap for this year.
But Roosters recruitment guru Peter O'Sullivan, who capped off a golden summer in the player market by extending Mitchell Pearce's contract for another four years, said the side's roster for this season was a result of good management.
''It's pretty simple - the salary cap went up and we had money to spend,'' O'Sullivan said.
''The other thing is that we had a significant sum left over last year. We left some money up our sleeve and that obviously carries over and gives us extra spending this year.''
The Sydney Roosters were in a better position to capitalise on the $800,000 increase in this year's salary cap than most clubs because they don't have many players with clauses in their contracts.
''We only have a small number of players who are on contracts that have to go up a certain percentage if the salary cap goes up,'' O'Sullivan said. ''Other clubs have quite a large number of players. All their higher-paid players are on those percentage clauses, so any increase in the cap isn't able to be taken advantage of.
''We didn't have the clauses that other clubs have got that chews up the cap, so we were able to spend it on our footy team.''
Back-ended deals are a nightmare for clubs to control, which is why some teams were inactive in the player market for this season. O'Sullivan said it wasn't a problem the Roosters had to worry about.
''Some other clubs have players on heavy back-ended deals that start to kick in this year - we don't,'' he said.
''What compounds their problem is that not only are they back-ended, but they are back-ended with a percentage increase.''
The Roosters have also parted ways with Braith Anasta, Mose Masoe, BJ Leilua and Brad Takairangi since the end of last year.
While O'Donnell's signature has raised a few eyebrows, O'Sullivan said the deal with the former North Queenslander didn't break the bank.
''Luke O'Donnell's not coming back for a king's ransom,'' he said.
''He's coming back for a chance to play in the NRL. The money he was on over there in the English Super League with Huddersfield, especially the way the dollar was, he was on half of what he left Australia on.
''He and his family were just homesick and really just came back for an opportunity to play in the NRL again. That's where we came into it.''
Under the new collective bargaining agreement about to be passed, the salary cap will increase by $400,000 a season for the next four years, plus an additional $50,000 a year in marquee player allowances.
While O'Sullivan jokingly said he was now in a position to take a six-month holiday after retaining and signing the club's priorities, he has turned his attention to rookie winger Daniel Tupou, who is in the final stages of finalising a contract extension.