How ‘retired’ Inglis beat salary cap to save Souths $1m
Furious rugby league fans have accused South Sydney of cheating the salary cap following Greg Inglis' shock decision to come out of retirement and sign with English Super League club Warrington for 2021.
More than a year after he quit the NRL in April last year, Inglis is set to make a sensational return.
The champion centre had lost his hunger for the game and decided to hang up the boots even though he was medically fit to continue.
Inglis' comeback has prompted rival league fans to accuse Souths of breaking cap rules because they believe the Queenslander was medically retired.
But these claims are incorrect as he was cleared by the NRL.
Following Inglis' retirement, the Rabbitohs had more than $1 million to spend on recruiting players like Roosters star Latrell Mitchell after league HQ agreed not to include any of the retired back's playing contract for 2020 in the salary cap.
NRL salary cap auditor Richard Gardham decided on a policy that would not disadvantage the Rabbitohs or create a loophole that clubs could exploit.
Inglis' departure from Souths was different to the usual retirement in that he walked away without being paid the final 18 months of his contract, worth approximately $1 million a season.
Instead, he took up off-field employment with Souths in a community role.
Inglis' contract would have been included in the Rabbitohs' salary cap if he received a full payment for his contract or if he negotiated a settlement.
Instead, the NRL ruled that the income Inglis earned before his retirement on April 14 in 2019 - worth approximately $500,000 - would be included in the '19 cap along with all off-field earnings for new coaching, ambassador and community roles with the club that year.
This left about $300,000 for the Rabbitohs to spend before June 30 while they had approximately $900,000 available for 2020.
That amount was dependent on how much Inglis was paid in 2020 over and above the expected wage for the roles he was undertaking.
The NRL had opted to treat the Inglis case like a medical retirement, whereby the full payment to the player is included in the salary cap for the season in which he is injured but not the following year.
The ruling is like the way the NRL treated Peter Wallace's decision to retire in 2018 and take up a coaching role at Penrith.
The NRL also wanted to ensure Inglis could gain the skills required to fulfil the off-field jobs, including coaching qualifications, before making a final ruling on the 2020 salary cap.
If the league felt that the retired centre was being paid more than his community job at Souths was worth, then the difference would be included in the salary cap.
The Rabbitohs believed they had presented a strong case for none of Inglis' post-career salary to be included in the 2019 and 2020 salary caps but accepted the NRL's decision.
Originally published as How 'retired' Inglis beat salary cap to save Souths $1m