St Helens preparing to lose players due to salary cap squeeze
Super League champions St Helens are bracing themselves for the loss of players from their title-winning squad through salary cap pressures.
Saints have recently tied Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax and Alex Walmsley to new deals but still have a number of players out of contract at the end of the year, most notably half-back Theo Fages.
Coach Kristian Woolf says talks with the 26-year-old Frenchman, who has played a key role in their back-to-back Grand Final triumphs, are ongoing and his re-signing is a priority for the club.
“We’ve a couple of blokes in that boat,” Woolf said. “He’s someone that we’d really like to keep, he’s a priority for us.
“Theo has been at the club for six years and he’s been our half-back for the last two years. Obviously he’s extremely well respected and really well liked within the group.
“At the end of the day, sometimes there’s other things at play when it comes to contracts. We are in a salary-cap sport as well.
“The salary cap is designed to squeeze players out of strong teams, that’s essentially what it’s there to do, make them go to other teams.
“That’s not specifically related to Theo but what it does mean is that we are going to lose some players as a result of the salary cap.
“We do have some terrific young kids coming through.
“In reference to Theo, we’d certainly love to keep him and we’ve made that clear to him.”
Fages, who has made 133 appearances for Saints since joining the club from Salford in 2016, is free to speak to other clubs, as are overseas players Lachlan Coote and Kevin Naiqama and highly rated second rower James Bentley, all of whom are also out of contract this year.