Stags to benefit from agreement, eventually

The new collective employment agreement signed between the New Zealand Rugby Union and the Players' Association should eventually have positive benefits for smaller unions like Southland.

Rugby Southland general manager Brian Hopley said the lowering of the NPC salary cap would continue to take some of the financial strain off unions, although it differed from region to region anyway because unions were bound to only spend 36 per cent of their income on player payments, regardless of what the cap was set at.

This year's cap is set at $1.1million, and will be lowered to $1.025million for the next two years.

"You've got to work within your own parameters. [The salary cap] is coming back, but I don't think we'll ever get it right back down," Hopley said.

Unions would also benefit from agreeements that the NZRU will reimburse most of the salaries paid out to All Blacks by their provincial employees, a key issue for teams that had to continue paying players who were rarely, if ever, available to them.

Under the new agreement, the maximum contract for an NPC player has been lowered from $60,000 to $55,000 and the minimum contract has been increased from $15,000 to $18,000.

Meanwhile, troubled winger Junior Ngaluafe has had his contract withdrawn by Rugby Southland.

Ngaluafe was convicted of assaulting a woman and intentional damage following an early morning incident outside an Invercargill tavern in April, and he has been the subject of a drawn out employment process involving his management, Rugby Southland and the New Zealand Rugby Union.

Hopley said both Ngaluafe, who had been recovering from a dislocated shoulder, and Rugby Southland had signed confidentiality agreements and there would be no further comment on the case.

The Southland Times