Paul Gallen fears for his club's capacity to sign its uncontracted player.
Paul Gallen fears for his club's capacity to sign its uncontracted player. PAUL MILLER

NRL funding war could trigger club battle

RUGBY LEAGUE: NRL clubs' escalating war with the ARL Commission has the potential to trigger spot fires between the clubs themselves, warns Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen.

The clubs last week issued a vote of no confidence in commission chairman John Grant after a hostile meeting over funding.

Representatives from Canterbury, North Queensland, Cronulla and Melbourne walked out on talks after the in-principle agreement to fund clubs at 130% of the salary cap from 2018 was taken off the table.

The funding model, which was agreed to by all parties last year, was set to provide an extra $100 million to the 16 clubs per year.

As is the case with most other clubs, the Sharks have a group of stars coming out of contract at the end of the 2017 season they are eager to sign but have been hamstrung by the stalling negotiations with the commission.

In turn, they are being left open to potential raids as rival clubs circle.

"I can certainly understand the frustration of the clubs," Gallen told Sky Sports Radio.

"Our club's trying to sign the majority of our team - I reckon 75% of our team will be off contract next year."

"They (the Sharks) are trying to extend guys out like Valentine Holmes, Jack Bird and Ricky Leutele and all these young guns in the game and they don't know where the cap's going to be.

"They don't know where the funding's coming from. It's very hard at the moment, because other clubs can poach players now.

"It's really difficult for clubs at the moment and you don't want to see a war in the game, so to speak.

"But I hope they get it sorted out soon and we can all move forward and clubs can start signing players and we know what direction we're headed in."

The ARL Commission and NRL clubs are set to continue talks this week in a bid to resolve the matter.

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