Warrington Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick has admitted that the Wolves are keeping one eye on the ongoing situation at rugby union side Saracens in case the opportunity to sign any of their players arises.
The future of many of the top Saracens players is in serious doubt after it emerged that the reigning European champions would be relegated at the end of the current domestic season following numerous salary cap scandals.
That has heightened the possibility of England internationals such as Maro Itoje, Mako and Billy Vunipola, Alex Goode and, perhaps most notably, Owen Farrell moving on to pastures new.
Reports last week have suggested that a slew of key players will commit their futures to the club irrespective of the fact they will be relegated. But with numerous options elsewhere that are likely to be far more lucrative, speculation is likely to persist for a prolonged period.
And Fitzpatrick has weighed in on that speculation.
He told League Express: “We’re actively monitoring the situation. We’ve still got one spot left on the new talent pool dispensation and should the opportunity present itself, we’d certainly look at it.”
Salary cap rules in Super League allow clubs room to sign two players under the new talent pool ruling, which allows players from other sports to come to Super League with a salary that does not count on the £2.1million cap in year one, and only partially in year two of a player’s contract.
For a new talent pool player – someone who has never played Rugby League, like all of Saracens’ top talent – their wage will not count towards the cap in their first season and then 50% from their second.
For a returning talent pool player, such as someone returning from rugby union, they must not have played Rugby League for five years and in the first season their wage contributes only 50% towards the cap and 75% in a second season.
Warrington already have one recent cross-code convert in their squad in former Northampton and England international Luther Burrell. The 32-year-old is understood to have made a good impression in his first full pre-season as a league player, and could be involved in their season opener against Wigan on Thursday night.