With Kalyn Ponga signing a four-year deal with Newcastle Knights purportedly worth $4.5million it seems like an opportune time to take a look at exactly what makes a player worth $1million or more to a club.
Are teams getting value for money out the current crop of millionaires? Which ones have delivered and which one have disappointed?
Best value for money
James Tedesco - Roosters
There seems to be very little argument that Tedesco is currently the best rugby league player in the world and rightly deserves every cent of his $1million-plus deal. It is no coincidence that since his arrival at the Roosters they have won two premierships and look well on the way to completing the hat-trick after a rocky start to 2020.
Jason Taumalolo - Cowboys
Taumalolo has locked himself into a 10-year, $10million contract with the Cowboys and continues to prove each week that the club has received the better end of the deal. Taumalolo provides so much momentum for the Cowboys with the metres he makes through the best defences. He rarely misses in defending himself and just running out alongside the behemoth must inspire his teammates to run through walls.
Cameron Smith - Storm
Smith is thought to be paid more than $1million a year, but is currently on a handshake deal from year to year. There is no doubting the value for money he brings, being one the best to ever play the game. He is still controlling the fortunes of the club, long after the departures of Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk. It remains to be seen whether he will go around again next year after a shortened 2020 season.
Tom Trbojevic - Sea Eagles
The Trbojevic brothers signed a package six-year-deal with Manly reportedly for a total of $12.5million, with Tom picking up $1.1milion of that each season. Jake is no doubt the backbone of the Sea Eagles pack, but his brother Tom is the real jewel in the Manly crown. If it wasn't for Tedesco, Tom would be up there in the best player discussions. He has all the talents needed in a modern fullback; pace, game awareness, deft passing and rock-solid defence. Other clubs threw the cheque book at him, but club loyalty saw him remain on the peninsula.
Kalyn Ponga - Knights
Ponga has extended his stay at the Knights and has indicated he fully intends to help bring the club a premiership. Ponga is one of those players with inarguable talent, who has hit the heights at a very young age. If he can continue to develop and remain injury free, he'll be collecting millions for years to come and deservedly so.
Daly Cherry-Evans - Sea Eagles
Cherry-Evans famously turned his back on a lucrative Gold Coast Titans offer to stay where his heart was, with the Sea Eagles, on a deal reportedly worth $10million over eight years. Cherry-Evans has the occasional off game, but generally he leads the Sea Eagles from the front. When he combines with Tom Trbojevic the magic happens at Manly.
Mitchell Pearce - Knights
Pearce joined the Knights on a deal reportedly worth $4million over four years. The Knights have continued to strengthen the team around him and they look the goods in 2020. Pearce is a quality player who has copped his share of criticism at Origin level over the years, but has matured into one of the best club halfbacks in the game.
Earning the dollars, not working miracles
Roger Tuivasa-Sheck - Warriors
The 2018 Dally M medalist is reportedly on $1.1million a year at the Warriors. His leadership and attacking prowess are obvious to all fans, but he obviously struggles when the rest of the team fails to contribute. When the Warriors forwards are on song, RTS has his chance to shine, but on an off day he spends a lot of time trying to stop opposition tries.
Kieran Foran - Bulldogs
Signed by former Manly coach Des Hasler, Foran arrived at the Bulldogs under an injury cloud and has remained there ever since. There have been enough flashes of brilliance, when he has strung a couple of games together, to suggest that with a better run of luck and a bit more talent around him, he could have been a good signing. No one has ever questioned his application, particularly as he has fought through more rehabilitations than anyone deserves.
Have some doubts
Michael Morgan - Cowboys
When Johnathan Thurston retired, Morgan signed a five-year deal reportedly worth $1million a year. Morgan had to step into some enormous boots and through injury and weight of expectation hasn't managed to make the impact many expected of him.
Nathan Cleary - Panthers
Cleary rose to prominence when selected at halfback for New South Wales at a young age. He signed a five-year contract extension with the Panthers which works out to be around $1million per year. Cleary has talent, but there are still doubts over whether he is a premiership-winning, worth-every-cent-he-is-being-paid player.
Money better spent elsewhere
Ben Hunt - Dragons
The State of Origin level utility or halfback was signed by the Dragons in 2018 on a five-year deal reportedly worth $6million. It was hoped he would be the missing piece to their premiership ambitions puzzle. Unfortunately Hunt has struggled since his arrival, with many fans questioning not only his ability, but his commitment to the cause. He has had his good moments, mostly while wearing the Queensland jersey, but continues to struggle to regularly impact the Dragons.
Ashley Taylor - Titans
Taylor is currently on a three-year contract extension with the Gold Coast reportedly worth $1million a year. There were always high hopes for Taylor from the moment he was pinched from the Broncos, but his rise to the top of the halfback ranks has faltered. There have been moments where you can see where the lofty-opinion of his talents originated, but he does go missing when the struggling club is looking for answers.