The Sea Eagles could struggle to retain brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic.
The Sea Eagles could struggle to retain brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic. Anthony Au-Yeung

Salary cap could prove costly for Sea Eagles

SOMETIMES we hear something and our immediate reaction is 'that's just not right'. Like Donald Trump's fence along the US-Mexican border.

But closer to home, and nearer to the thoughts of NRL supporters, is the very real proposition that the briliant Trbojevic brothers, Jake and Tom, could be forced out of the Manly Sea Eagles club. And that's just not right.

It goes without saying that the NRL wants a fiercely-competitive competition. But when push comes to shove, is the governing body serious about making those tough decisions to ensure each weekend becomes a tipster's nightmare?

And while my proposal will not automatically generate a competition that weekly and annually goes down to the wire, it will certainly help.

That's why, under no circumstances, should Tom and Jake be forced to leave Manly, or the brothers be split against their will.

Regrettably though, there seems a real chance that one or both will leave the Sea Eagles at the end of next season because of salary cap restraints.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: Tom Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles is tackled during the round 18 NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Parramatta Eels at Lottoland on July 21, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Tom Trbojevic is a genuine superstar of the game. Cameron Spencer

Both are million-dollar players and with Daly Cherry-Evans already earning $1million a season, that trio will take a huge hunk of the $9.6-million cap.

My suggestion - and yes, it is radical - is that if the brothers want to stay at Manly and the club can provide a rolled-gold third party to assist financially, one of them should be totally exempt from the salary cap.

While the salary cap needs to be strictly governed - mostly to protect over-zealous clubs from themselves - the NRL should have the capacity to exercise discretion. And making allowances for local juniors, particularly brothers, to stay at the club of their choice should be among the priorities.

Let's not forget that 12 months ago the Sea Eagles were a basket case. They were languishing near the bottom of the ladder - they eventually finished second last - and Trent Barrett was persona non grata as coach.

Jake Trbojevic of the Sea Eagles looks to pass the ball during the Round 17 NRL match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Manly Sea Eagles at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Saturday, July 13, 2019. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Jake Trbojevic plays a key role in the middle for the Sea Eagles. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Enter Des Hasler and, primarily on the back of the Trbojevic brothers, the Sea Eagles are again flying high. As a result, gone are those calls for the Silvertails to be sold or relocated.

Admittedly, Sydney has too many NRL clubs, but with Manly the only franchise covering the area north of the Harbour Bridge to Newcastle, it must remain. And it must be strong.

Losing the brothers would be a tragedy. Not only are they the club's two best players, they are Manly born, bred and educated. And there is 17-year-old brother Ben waiting in the wings.

They are also smart young men. Tom is undertaking a double degree in economics and finance at Macquarie University and Jake has already completed a bachelor of management in sport and exercise science.

6/9/17  Sea Eagles brothers (LR) Tom and Jake Trbojevic at the Academy of sports in Narrabeen. Adam Yip/ Manly Daily
Tom and Jake Trbojevic are Manly through and through. Adam Yip

With their long-term futures not solely dependent on their NRL earnings, money is unlikely their major motivation. And because they are passionate about their club, they would more than likely accept unders to stay at Brookvale.

I am not advocating the NRL bend the rules simply to allow the Trbojevic family to play together. I'm saying change the rules, and invoke a salary-cap exemption in this and similar cases.

To force one - or both - of the brothers to leave, is just not right.