NRL news | Wendell Sailor Super League contract revealed, insane pay rise, ARL offer

0

NRL great Wendell Sailor has revealed how his price tag exploded within days during the Super League war, from $22,500 per season to a $2 million offer.

Sailor was a rising star at the Brisbane Broncos when Super League began poaching players from the ARL, sparking a signing frenzy that made footballers rich. He was reportedly on $22,500 for his breakout season in 1994.

Sailor, who went on that year’s Kangaroo tour before the signing blitz hit in 1995, made the call to stick with the Broncos just as the Super League war was heating up. Even before it was factored in, the winger’s wage more than tripled to $75,000 per season.

“I was lucky enough to go on a Kangaroos tour, because Willie Carne was injured,” Sailor told Triple M.

“[Kangaroos coach] Bob Fulton was a massive fan, there was a young Steve Menzies and myself … Jimmy Serdaris and guys like that, Jason Smith. So that put me in good stead.

“Ninety-five, there was a bit of talk about Super League coming around, I think I’d re-signed for two or three more years [with Brisbane]. Not on massive money, because they had all the big dogs.

“But my manager at the time, Barry Collins, said, ‘Look, if this Super League comes in John [Ribot, Broncos then Super League chief executive], this is what Dell will get’. So I signed off on that.

“Sure enough, overnight … it just went bang. My manager rang me and said, ‘Mate, just to let you know, I’ve got a [$100,000 signing bonus] cheque for you and you’re on $300,000 for the first year, $300,000 for the second year, $350,000 the third year’.”

Within 24 hours, Sailor had again tripled his salary. And suddenly, he had a single six-figure cheque worth more than that that original upgraded salary; later using it to buy his mum and dad a house and car.

But it wasn’t quite over, because this was a time when many players were ‘double-dipping’; signing contracts with both the Super League and ARL, to keep their options open before eventually taking the best deal. Broncos players were locked in with Super League, but had an offer to speak with ARL representatives.

Sailor and Brisbane teammates – barring Allan Langer, a Super League marquee man – took a meeting in a private room at Sydney Airport days later with ARL heavies Phil Gould and James Packer.

The ARL produced a staggering offer that amounted to more than $2 million; double the Super League offer. Sailor was 20 years-old at the time.

“I said, ‘Look, to be honest, I’ve signed. I just came to listen to what you’re going to say’,” Sailor recalled saying to Gould.

“He said, ‘Bob Fulton’s got a massive rap on you. I know that you’re at the Broncos now. If there’s a club you’d like to go to, we can organise that’.

“I said, ‘But I’ve already taken a cheque’. And he said, ‘No, no, our lawyers will pick up the tab. So, this is what we’ll do for you.

“‘You give us your bank account [details] and we’ll put half a million dollars in your bank account over the next couple of days. The first year you’ll go $500,000, second $500,000 and third year $550,000’.

“That’s what he said and I’m sitting there going, ‘What?! I was on like 75 grand four days ago! But because I’m loyal and I did the right thing, when I left there I made the right decision and stuck with the Broncos.”

Sailor’s total offer from the ARL was 91 times more than his rookie pay at the Broncos. The Super League deal that he accepted was still 47 times better; and nearly five times better than his initial contract upgrade in 1995. It was an era of staggering largesse for rugby league that, given the current coronavirus shutdown, is hard to imagine ever reoccurring.

Sailor said that he would have nominated Manly had he chosen to join an NRL club – which would have been a wise move. The Sea Eagles won the 1996 ARL premiership and were grand finalists from 1995-97.

Sailor won the Super League title with Brisbane in 1997, then the first NRL premiership in the 1998 season when the competition was reunited. The Queensland Origin star won another Brisbane NRL premiership in 2000, before leaving after the next season to play rugby union – again for massive money.

Source

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.