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Concerns raised as clubs set for opener

Thursday, March 08, 2018

THE return of Frank-Paul Nuuausala and the possible signing of Kurt Baptiste from Super League on the eve of the Telstra Premiership highlight concerns that the depth in the Sydney Roosters squad could undermine the club's stunning off-season recruitment drive.

While questions about the Roosters salary cap is one of the most common topics raised with NRL officials and media commentators by fans of rival clubs, the reality is that the roster at the Bondi-based club has one of the fewest number of players with first-grade experience in the competition.

The Roosters used 26 players last season and 31 in 2016 — figures that most clubs range between from year to year.

As a result, the NRL has increased the roster size for each club from 25 players to 30 players under the $9.4 million salary cap, with a minimum wage of $100,000 for players 1-26 and $70,000 for players 27-30.

However, the second-tier salary cap has been abolished and clubs are unable to draw from outside their 30-man squad unless given dispensation by the NRL salary cap auditor. That is only likely to be granted if clubs have no available players capable of playing a specific position.

Clubs had to nominate 29-players to the NRL by March 1 and must have 30 players by June 30, although Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Nate Myles) and Wests Tigers (Curtis Sironen) are understood to have included former players as they are still paying them.

Despite the presence of so many rookies, the Roosters squad still boasts the fifth highest number of NRL appearances behind the Cowboys (2,708), Cronulla Sharks (2,660), Eels (2,410) and Storm (2,320).

Of the 2304 NRL appearances by players in the Roosters squad, Cronk is responsible for 323 of them, while five other players - Mitchell Aubusson (239), Jake Friend (211), Nuuausala (184), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (175) and Blake Ferguson (165) - have each played more than 150 games.

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