Former NRL chief executive David Gallop once said that Josh Morris’ departure from St George Illawarra to Canterbury highlighted the salary cap’s effectiveness in distributing talent among the clubs.
Now salary cap pressures have resulted in his twin Brett leaving to join Josh at the Bulldogs and it is likely the Dragons will have to release at least one more player to resolve their difficulties. “I think most people know how much I enjoy playing rugby league with Josh, we played our whole careers together as juniors and growing up through the system we always thought we would play together our whole careers,” Brett said after finalising a four-year deal with Canterbury that will enable the brothers to play out their careers together. “Obviously, I have had the opportunity to play in Origin and Australian sides with Josh but I just think at this point of my career I want to get back to playing with him week in and week out, and I know if I do that he will bring out the best in me.”
Brett constantly tried to convince Josh to return to the Dragons when the twins roomed together during last year’s World Cup in Britain but he signed a four-year deal with the Bulldogs in a move that still has St George Illawarra officials ruing the day former coach Wayne Bennett decided not to match Canterbury’s offer before he came to the club in 2009. Gallop told Fairfax Media in a 2010 interview about the Melbourne Storm salary cap scandal that Josh joining the Bulldogs was the best example of the salary cap working effectively.
“Would Josh Morris have preferred to stay at St George Illawarra? I am sure he would have,” Gallop said. “He is a local kid with his identical twin in the team. But that is what a salary cap is. A salary cap distributes talent and it pushes players around the competition.”
But Brett said that the decision had now led to him leaving too.
“The desire to play with him has just gotten too big,” he said. “I tried plenty of times to get Josh to come over to the Dragons but things never worked out that way and I suppose when we missed out on picking up Josh I sort of knew this day was going to happen.”
The Bulldogs are expected to play Brett at fullback and St George Illawarra coach Paul McGregor said they had been able to offer him more money than the Dragons could have when he was due to come off contract at the end of next season.
“As a club, we tried hard to find a suitable outcome for both parties but we were not in the position to meet Brett’s financial expectations over the long-term,” said McGregor, who added that he knew how “extremely close the twins are”.
“Brett came to us with a question and we tried to talk Brett out of it, and we tried to come up with a solution that suited both parties. We did try to keep Brett, Brett knows that but he felt it was in the best interests for him and the best interests for his football career and the best interests for his family.
“He is a twin and the twin doesn’t play here any more, he plays for Canterbury. Brett wants to play alongside his twin and his twin just signed a new contract for four years so those two guys will be re-united and we will miss a very, very valuable member of our football club and team. He is the best winger in Australia, he has been for some time and whenever he gets the ball in good position he scores points.”
After releasing prop Jack Stockwell to Newcastle earlier this week, the Dragons are now close to resolving salary cap issues caused by the signing of Benji Marshall and Joel Thompson’s decision to stay.
While Jason Nightingale, Gerard Beale and Dylan Farrell have been linked to other clubs, it is understood just one more player needs to be released before next season.
“Whilst there has been speculation in regards to our salary cap for 2015, I want to make it very clear that moving on Brett was not one of the club’s objectives nor was it one of its plans,” St George Illawarra chief executive Peter Doust said.
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