KC backs central contract plan

Saints coach Keiron Cunningham
Saints coach Keiron Cunningham

Saints boss Keiron Cunningham has put his full weight behind a decision of the RFL to consider introducing central contracts for elite players to ensure top talent remains at home instead of being lured by mega bucks Down Under.

“We have got to do something as a country or as a competition and while I’m not sure it will stop some players moving to Australia, it will help clubs hold on to others,” Cunningham said.

He added: “If we are not going to increase our salary cap then I think what is being proposed represents a good idea.”

Super League executive director Roger Draper had earlier insisted: “We need to retain the best British talent in the sport - and that is my priority.”

Clubs have been circulated for their views on central contracts which are extensively used in cricket and I understand the initial response has been more than favourable. It is also believed that such a move would not only be beneficial to the domestic game but advantageous at international level.

Even so, Cunningham already insists that England have a good enough squad now to beat any other international team.

“I think it is one of the best squads we have had for a long period and I’m talking about those who have travelled to Australia for one-off Test matches in the past and beaten the Kangaroos in their own back yard,” said Cunningham, who was himself coveted by many NRL sides during his illustrious playing career.

“Our current pack is second to none in the world but it is just a question of what we do with it.

“Proving all the players stay fit, then head coach Wayne Bennett is in charge of a squad capable of conquering the world.”

Neither does Cunningham - who blasted a previous England plan to hold a pre-season training camp in Dubai - have any objections to Bennett taking players for special camps on a Monday and Wednesday each week, or organise at least one mid-season Test.