Super League chiefs have been warned they could face a tough time hanging onto their best players as Australian clubs begin circling for talent.
The 10th Magic Weekend presented a chance for almost 70,000 fans to watch all 12 Super League teams in action but also provided a unique spying opportunity for NRL clubs ready to take advantage of a big increase in their spending power.
Leading agent Craig Harrison, a former owner of Doncaster who has 72 players on his books, including 22 internationals, says NRL clubs were out in force at Newcastle’s St James’ Park last weekend buoyed by the prospect of a bumper new television deal and a subsequent raising of the salary cap.
“There were probably 10 agents there and I’d say 12 of the NRL clubs,” Harrison said. “They’re hunting for players.
“I’ve been getting calls three or four times a day in the last three weeks and my top six to eight players are getting direct texts and emails asking for contract details.”
Ten England players are already currently plying their trade in the NRL and Leeds and England full-back Zak Hardaker is the latest to be linked with a move Down Under, even though he has three years left on his contract with the Rhinos.
Harrison added: “The cap in Australia could go up to £10million and that could blow our game apart. There are no ifs and buts, it’s a scary time for our game.
“Anybody who goes has the potential to double their money and they are looking for the next big thing.
“They call them the ‘futures’ - they have comprehensive details on every player in the UK on their data base - and they want to bring them in as early as 15 or 16 and integrate them into their way of life and culture.
“It’s definitely going to explode.”