Jarrod Croker of the Canberra Raiders will miss the opening rounds through injury.
Jarrod Croker of the Canberra Raiders will miss the opening rounds through injury. JULIAN SMITH

Unjust NRL salary cap is working

THE NRL salary cap is, in my eyes, unjust. It restricts prosperous sporting organisations from reaping the rewards of their success and assists under-achievers in maintaining a level of mediocrity.

And now, with all 16 clubs receiving grants that cover their salary cap plus an additional 30% bonus, no real incentive remains for clubs to work hard for the corporate and membership dollar.

But negatives aside, the NRL salary cap is working a treat. As we head into yet another season, all but the still-struggling Knights appear a genuine chance of playing finals.

Here are my brief thoughts on the 2017 premiership race:

Broncos - will miss Corey Parker's work rate and offloads, but have a backline that oozes class. Forward strength is the unknown.

Bulldogs - have a highly talented roster despite no signings of note. But is big still beautiful?

Cowboys - need some young forwards to stand up, but should be there at the end. JT is, patently, the key.

Dragons - adding to their lone top-eight finish in five years is unlikely, with serious doubts over their spine and their attack.

Eels - another team with a question mark over the make-up of the all-important spine. An excellent coach may not be enough.

Knights - wooden spoon favourites, and rightly so. Courage won't score them many points.

Panthers - stronger on paper than in their 2016 resurgence and are genuine premiership threats. Forward talent is awesome.

Raiders - could well be the 2017 premiers, although the early loss of skipper Jarrod Croker is a blow. Outstanding, mobile pack and slick backs.

Rabbitohs - the jury is still out on the Rabbits despite their smattering of match winners. Conceding 23 points a game last season remains a concern.

Roosters - poor discipline has long been an alarm at the Roosters, but their roster is outstanding. If they start with a bang they will be a threat.

Sharks - the pressure on the premiers is immense, particularly with no experienced replacement for Michael Ennis. Aging forwards may struggle in a team that will be hunted every week.

Sea Eagles - in a major rebuilding phase and unlikely to be title contenders. Brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic will be the soul of the transformation.

Storm - has missed the finals just once in 14 years, so why would 2017 be different? Some talent has gone, but the Storm rarely fails to find competent replacements.

Tigers - a smattering of stars are they but - incredibly - the Tigers already face salary cap questions. Will be troublesome at times, but won't play finals.

Titans - finalists last year for the first time in six seasons, yet depth could be an issue. Questions remain over the long-term commitment of superstar Jarryd Hayne.

Warriors - with unquestionably the most gifted spine in the game, this talented roster now has a very cluey coach. But consistency, as always, remains the query.

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