Super League: Toronto boss Brian Noble wants debate about lifting cap structure

Sonny Bill Williams
Sonny Bill Williams is set to join Toronto on a deal reportedly worth £5m over two years

Super League should consider changing salary cap regulations to entice more superstars like Sonny Bill Williams, according to Toronto Wolfpack director of rugby Brian Noble.

In 2020, clubs will be allowed to spend £2.1m on player salaries, although there are certain incentive 'offsets' such as the marquee player rule.

"[Lifting the cap] would help for everybody's shopping lists," he said.

"It's not carefree abandoning of all the principles we've put in place in Super League, but if we're genuine in our aspirations to bring stars and have events, to make the game as vibrant as it was [when Super League started] in 1996 - or 1895 when northern union first broke away - then we are at the moment in the game where we need to make the pivotal decisions."

Speaking to BBC Sport, he added: "There are some really intelligent people in and around Super League that agree with what Toronto are doing and the city is doing, while some are more head-scratching and wondering what it's about.

"It's time to have the debate and be positive and proactive about expansion, with all the right regulatory rules that should be in there.

"Sonny Bill Williams, if his name is on that piece of paper, is part and parcel and forefront of our view of making decisions that are good for the game and not just Toronto."

Noble expects more big names to be linked with a move to the Lamport Stadium for the Wolfpack's first campaign in the top flight, in only their third season in existence.

"He's not the only one on the shopping list and the list grows," he said.

"We want the game to have front-page headlines. We want the game to have an energy and excitement so that everyone else knows what our great game is about."

Manu Tuilagi
Manu Tuilagi - fresh from England World Cup duty - is reportedly on the Wolfpack radar

The SBW effect on Super League

Not only is SBW, the popular shorthand for Williams, one of the most recognisable figures in world rugby of either code, he is also a magnet for success, having won two union World Cups and two National Rugby League premierships in the 13-man code.

Even at 34, the player's impending return to league in the northern hemisphere has triggered column inches across the world and social media traffic beyond traditional outlets.

The story was also the front page news on the New Zealand Herald, where union and the All Blacks are king.

"People believe it's one of the biggest signings for rugby league in the northern hemisphere, and I don't disagree," Noble added.

"Is the decision good for the game of rugby league? Boy, oh boy what a signing.

"As a director of rugby on a selfish level I know he can play, the ancillary stuff I'm less bothered about. But, everywhere I go I get hit by a baseball bat from New Zealand rugby legends of both codes saying 'I'm not sure you quite appreciate what this guy brings'."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC