General Willie Mason on the Warriors Cap Breach


Players bear brunt of stuff-ups
By Willie Mason
March 11, 2006

I FELT sorry for the New Zealand Warriors players yesterday when the NRL decided to stand by its punishment and start the club on minus four points for 2006.

I understand the club had to be punished for breaching the salary cap - especially when you consider what happened to the Bulldogs and their supporters in 2002 - but I still feel sorry for the players.

In 2002, we did not know where any of the money was coming from - not that I was getting any third party payments. No one in the team knew where the payments were coming from.

We were only worried about getting our contracts settled. Where the money comes from does not really concern you as a player - as long as you are paying all of your bills.

I know from speaking to other players that a lot of their managers do everything for them.

He gets the best money for you. All you worry about after that is signing the contract and playing good footy. That is my attitude and I know that is the attitude of 95 per cent of players in the NRL.

That is what is so disappointing about the Warriors' situation because the players bear the whole brunt of the administration stuffing it up.

They are just there to play football and they are the ones that have paid the ultimate price.

Maybe, as players, we really have to start looking at where our money is coming from. You think it is coming from the club and not through third-party payments and stuff like that.

But probably the reason why clubs are doing it is because the salary cap has only gone up by a small margin in four years.
The price of living and everything has gone up so why hasn't the salary cap? If everything else is getting more expensive, I think the salary cap should go up as well.

There is so much talent in the NRL that they can afford it and the best players should be on the best money. If there wasn't such a tight squeeze on the salary cap things like the Warriors' situation would not occur.

Starting on minus four points will be tough for them but there is so much talent in the New Zealand side they will be able to cope.

It's only four points - even though I know four points is a lot in the competition these days. Four points can mean the difference between making the eight or not. They will have to work hard but I think a lot of good things come from adversity.

There is a lot of pressure on the players to perform and, if they stick together, they should do it.

I suppose it can go either of two ways. It can either galvanise them and make them stronger or people will start getting the shits and get filthy at the club and not want to play for them.

With the leaders they have in Steve Price and Ruben Wiki, who have been around for years, I think it will galvanise them. The Warriors have never been through this sort of controversy before and this is their first hurdle.

As for the Bulldogs, we are just looking forward to getting back into it against Penrith at Telstra Stadium tonight after our disappointing finish to the season last year.

We couldn't manage to win the final six games and that was very hard because there was a lot of effort going in. Even though we were getting beaten, everyone was still trying but there were a couple of things letting us down. I cannot describe the feeling; it was just very frustrating.

Hopefully the players' decision to select a leadership group this year will turn our fortunes around. The group has seven players in it including me, Andrew Ryan, Tony Grimaldi, Adam Perry, Corey Hughes, Mark O'Meley and Sonny Bill Williams.

We meet once a week and talk about how the week was at training and if everybody is doing the things that we need to be doing. If you're not doing it, you get told straight to your face.

There is no joking around, you cannot be late to training, there is no midweek drinking. It is very strict.

I suppose it is probably a little bit more responsibility for myself. I really enjoy it because there are a lot of young players in the club now who look up to me. I have got to be setting the right example for the younger sort of blokes.

I lead while I am on the field but off the field I do a little bit more so it does give me extra responsibility not to stuff up, go out drinking and set a bad example for the young guys.

Training is still fun but everyone is really switched on and the goal is to make the finals.

Hopefully it works out because there has been a lot of hard work in the pre-season


Interesting to hear a player's perspective on the issue.
And he's probably right as far as players not being concerned about where the money is coming from for the most part. It's their own manager's as well as team management that are there to deal with the financial arrangements - the players are there to do the business on the field. I guess the lesson from all this is that all parties need to take more responsibility for making sure everything is above board.
Look at it this way, if you were getting a few hundred more a week in your pay packet all of a sudden for no apparent reason... would you question it with your boss or payroll... or keep quiet and spend it?
I'm sure most would ask questions, because in the end someone in charge will find out.


At least he's not another one of those aussie journos bringing us down. Great article.


never did like willie mason but now i have a little soft spot for the bastard


LOL. I wouldn't say I love him anymore. I still dispise him but he makes some very good, fair and valid points. So good on him for stating those facts.

Anyway, I think it's really high time we just forget about it and move on. Tomorrow's the day peeps! Get out there and cheer the boys on!


Hehe im getting excited now reading bout Willie Mason...i hope he carves up tonight:D:D


Im wanting to know why you guys n gals dont like him?? like im not having a go at ya's im just intrested to know :)

*sigh* yea i know hes been a nut off the field in recent years, and well...plays for aussie when he was born a kiwi....but he's trying to clean his image up *hides lol*


To be honest, when I first saw the heading I thought he was going to have a go at us for not getting as harsh a penalty as the Bulldogs got. But I have to say im pleasantly suprised by Mason, nice to hear someone sticking up for us for a change.


I dont think Willie would bag out the warriors about the salary cap...he just..doesnt seem like that imo..but yes i know he is no angel lol

By the way ... he cant really say anything about it, considering what happened a couple of years back :(

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