It’s not even 2024 but the next Anzac clash between the Roosters and Dragons is set to be fiery after Sydney boss Nick Politis slammed a pair of St George Illawarra stars.
Teams around the NRL came up with creative ways of releasing their draws and the Dragons decided to play charades.
Dragons veteran Jack Bird was paired with newcomer Kyle Flanagan to cover their round 18 clash with the Roosters.
After miming handing a bag, followed by making it rain, Flanagan guessed “brown paper bags — Roosters” as the pair burst into laughter.
There could be some bitterness from Flanagan, who was the Roosters’ halfback in 2020, where he played 20 games, scoring four tries and kicking 198 goals.
After being eliminated in straight sets from the finals, Flanagan was informed he was no longer needed.
He then signed with the Bulldogs, where he’s spent the past three years in and out of first grade.
But while it was all in good fun, the Roosters weren’t laughing.
The Roosters have long been tarred with brush of having a “salary sombrero” compared to the rest of the NRL’s salary cap, as the club have proven arguably the best in the competition and signing big names and retaining premiership level talent.
Next season, the Roosters will bring in Knights and England star Dominic Young and premiership Panther Spencer Leniu.
However, the side will lose Fletcher Baker to the Broncos, Jaxson Paulo and Matt Lodge to Manly, Drew Hutchison and Jake Turpin to the Bulldogs, Paul Momirovski to Leeds in the UK Super League and a host of other players who remain unsigned.
The Roosters’ billionaire chairman Politis was asked on Nine News about whether the jokes about the “brown paper bag” or “salary sombrero” annoy the 80-year-old mogul.
“Very much so,” Politis said.
“It’s just jealousy and it’s stupid.
“What do you say about them (the Dragons)? They don’t know what they’re saying anyway.”
Club CEO Joe Kelly said that he was happy for other teams to spend their time thinking about what the Roosters are doing.
“I’m happy for other teams to be looking at us and we’ll just focus on ourselves,” Kelly said.
“At the end of the day, that’s all we can control. If others are looking across the fence they’re probably a little bit distracted.”
Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph analysed the rosters and valued the Roosters’ roster at $13m, more than $1.5m more than the current salary cap, and more than $4m than the Dolphins’ 2023 roster.
The Roosters players defended club, with representative forward Lindsay Collins saying: “The more you get professional, the less you worry about money and the more you worry about winning.”
It comes as the Roosters have been linked to bringing Wallabies young gun Mark Nawaqanitawase to the NRL in 2025 as Joseph Suaali’i goes to the Wallabies.
NRL CEO Andrew Abdo confirmed the possibility of salary cap exemptions for bringing in high-quality talent from other sports.
However, Politis said that Suaali’i may return to the Roosters after his Wallabies contract ends in 2027.
“Joseph is a good kid. It’s sad that we’ve lost him to (rugby) union, but he tells us he’s coming back in 2028,” he said.
Asked would he welcome Suaali’i back, Politis said: “Of course. Always a Rooster.”
Originally published as ‘They don’t know anything’: Roosters boss savages salary cap sledge